The investor-backed CEO candidate pushing for changes to the Canadian National Railroad has dropped out of the race, but the company is moving forward with plans to appoint a new senior executive next month.
Canadian National said Monday that Jim Vena told the Montreal railroad board on Sunday that he was no longer interested in the CEO job. Vena is a former CN executive who also ran Union Pacific Railroad operations for a few years.
Current railroad CEO JJ Ruest has announced plans to retire at the end of January after CN failed to acquire the Kansas City Southern Railroad earlier this year.
Vena was recommended for the job by London-based investment firm TCI Fund which appointed four new directors and recommended that CN focus on cutting costs and improving its own operations. Officials at TCI, which owns 5% of CN’s shares, did not immediately respond to questions on Monday.
TCI said it doesn’t think the new strategic plan presented by CN executives in September does enough, even though it calls for a $ 550 million cost cut, restoring corporate buyouts. shares and 20% growth in earnings per share next year.
Canadian National said TCI’s focus on cutting costs wherever possible is an outdated approach that would hurt the railway in the long run, as it would likely degrade its service.
Canadian National lost in the Kansas City Southern bid after regulators rejected part of CN’s acquisition plan. Instead, Kansas City Southern opted for a competing $ 31 billion takeover offer from Canadian Pacific, even though that offer was lower.
A special meeting of shareholders is scheduled for March 22 to vote on TCI’s demands.
Canadian National is one of the largest railroads in North America and operates nearly 20,000 miles of track crossing Canada and across the US Midwest to the Gulf Coast.