Friday, June 29, 2012

Hunter Harrison named CP President, CEO

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Canadian Pacific Friday officially made its long-anticipated move of appointing E. Hunter Harrison president and chief executive officer, completing a significant revision of CP leadership through its revamped board of directors.

CP noted, "With nearly 50 years of railroad experience, Mr. Harrison previously served as the president and CEO of Canadian National Railway Company (CN) and, prior to that, as president & CEO of Illinois Central Railroad (IC)."

"Following a thorough CEO selection process, the Board of Directors has endorsed and appointed Mr. Harrison as CP's president & CEO," said Paul Haggis, CP's chairman of the Board of Directors. "The Board welcomes Mr. Harrison's experience and leadership to CP. We look forward to benefiting from his strong track record of service reliability, efficient asset utilization, and strategic capital expenditure."

ehunterharrison"CP is an incredible franchise with significant market opportunity, solid infrastructure, and innovative and hard-working employees," said Harrison (pictured at left). "I am proud to be working with one of North America's iconic companies and I look forward to quickly getting to know the priorities of CP's customers, shareholders, employees, and the communities served by the railway."

CP pointedly noted that Harrison has received numerous accolades, including Railway Age's Railroader of the Year (2002) and CEO of the Year by the Globe and Mail's Report on Business magazine.

Responding to its longtime rival, Canadian National Friday released a statement congratulation Harrison while simultaneously reserving CN’s right to pursue legal action on the move. 

“CN wishes to congratulate E. Hunter Harrison on his appointment as president and chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific Railway. We look forward to fair and vigorous competition with CP under his leadership. We know a healthy and productive CP is good for the rail industry and good for the economy,” CN’s statement began.

But CN also noted, “CN's legal proceeding against Mr. Harrison is ongoing, and the company reserves the right to exercise any and all legal options available to it in connection with this action.”

Legal maneuvers notwithstanding, Harrison’s arrival at CP is being viewed positively by some Wall Street observers, including Dahlman Rose & Co. analyst (and Railway Age Contributing Editor) Jason Seidl.

Seidl on Friday noted Harrison will not rush through any changes, but likely would “evaluate the current people on his management team there and make some changes, bring in his own people, and then embark on a plan to turn CP around.” That process, Seidl said, might “take a few years, not a few quarters.”