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Barry Fitzgerald
May 6, 2009

FORMER high-flyer OZ Minerals is to undergo wholesale board and management change to better reflect its greatly reduced size following the forced asset sales required to rid itself of its debt refinancing woes.

Five of the eight-member board, including chairman Barry Cusack and managing director Andrew Michelmore, plan to ride off elsewhere, but won’t be able to forget their time at OZ in a hurry.

Shareholders’ litigant IMF Australia plans to make sure of that, saying yesterday a $1 billion class action claim being handled by legal firm Maurice Blackburn on behalf of “hundreds” of OZ shareholders remains in the pipeline.

The potential class action was first flagged in December, but nothing has been heard since, and as of yesterday OZ had not received any statement of claim or other documents from IMF or Maurice Blackburn.

IMF would not reveal the proposed timing of the class action but it is believed to want to see OZ complete its $US1.2 billion ($A1.6 billion) in asset sales to China’s Minmetals. The deal is subject to a shareholder vote on June 11. Without the deal, OZ faced the prospect of administration.

OZ was created by the friendly merger of Oxiana and Zinifex last year, implemented by an Oxiana scrip offer for Zinifex.

IMF’s proposed class action involves alleged misleading and deceptive conduct and alleged breaches by OZ of its continuous disclosure obligations between February 28 and December 3 last year. OZ has continued to strongly refute the allegations and plans to vigorously defend itself against any legal action proposed by IMF.

Announcing its board changes yesterday, OZ said director Tony Larkin had submitted his resignation on Monday. Another director, Ronnie Beevor, will not seek re-election at the June 11 meeting.

Assuming the Minmetals deal proceeds, Mr Michelmore will resign and take up a senior executive role with the Chinese group. A search for a replacement managing director is now under way.

Mr Cusack and another director, Peter Mansell, plan to resign from the board once the new managing director is appointed. The slimmed-down OZ would then seek to appoint two replacements, who will face shareholders at OZ’s 2010 annual meeting for election.

The result is that OZ will end up with a board of six, down from the current eight. OZ shares closed 2.5¢ higher at 82¢.

The reporter owns OZ shares and is not party to any class action.

http://business.theage.com.au/business/ceo-and-others-to-go-as-oz-minerals-slims-down-20090505-atyh.html

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