Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Lithium Americas rejigs senior management team as current CEO to step down

Lithium Americas Corp. (TSE:LAC) says that its current president and chief executive, Dr. Waldo Perez, will be stepping down from his role, and will be replaced by director John Kanellitsas in the interim. 
Dr. Waldo Perez, who will also resign from his post as director, will relinquish his duties at the company's annual general meeting on June 14 in order to pursue other business interests,Lithium Americas said. He has been the chief of the company since its inception in 2009, and led the company to complete a $45 million IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange in May 2010. 
Dr. Perez is also credited with leading the Argentina-focused company in its completion of an extensive drilling program and definitive feasibility study at the Cauchari-Olaroz project, which resulted in the identification of the third largest lithium brine resource in the world, and one of the lowest cost lithium projects. Lithium Americas has also obtained all necessary government permits to start project construction. 
Kanellitsas has been a director of Lithium Americas since 2011, and is the COO of Geologic Resource Partners, which is the manager of several investment funds focused on metals and mining sectors and is the largest shareholder of Lithium Americas.  
The company also announced Wednesday that Franco Mignacco, a director, has been appointed vice chairman as well as president of Minera Exar, Lithium Americas' operating subsidiary in Argentina. 
Mignacco has been an Argentina-based director of of the company since 2009, and he and his family are major shareholders, owning approximately 6 per cent of Lithium Americas' shares outstanding. In his new role, he will continue to oversee relations with the Argentinean government and local communities, and will oversee project development through the construction phase.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Waldo for his major contributions, and wish him success in his new ventures. I am also pleased to announce the formation of a new senior management team," said executive chairman Tom Hodgson in the release. 
"John Kanellitsas has been serving as the Chairman of the Executive Committee leading efforts to identify strategic partners and is well suited for the Interim CEO position. I am also very pleased that our Argentinean director, Franco Mignacco, has been willing to accept the role of Vice Chairman of LAC, and President of our principal operating subsidiary which will build out the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project."
Also Wednesday, the company updated investors on project financing, after creating an executive committee to oversee various financing proposals and to manage discussions with potential strategic partners last November. Since then, the company said it has had "numerous" parties review contents of its data room, with the process generating "strong and continuing interest from a number of potential partners" globally, despite the difficult financing climate. 
“We are committed to running a thorough and professional process in order to execute a financing arrangement which will maximize shareholder value,” said Hodgson in the statement.  “We are hopeful to be in a position to provide more specific detail on our project financing discussions in the near future.”
Kanellitsas spoke excitedly about his new role, and of the current prospects in the lithium sector, saying the company believes lithium demand will continue to grow significantly from advances in battery technologies related to electric vehicles and grid storage applications.

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