As had been expected, Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) today named E. Hunter Harrison its president and chief executive officer. Harrison was also named as a director of the company's 15-member board.
Harrison, 67, had been the primary choice of activist investor William A. Ackman, whose New York-based hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP is CP's largest shareholder. Ackman led a slate of six new directors that in mid-May won a proxy battle to take control of Calgary, Alberta-based CP, forcing the resignation of the then-CEO of CP Fred Green.
Once the reconstituted board was in place, the choice of Harrison was a foregone conclusion.
Harrison retired in 2009 after serving as president and CEO of Canadian National (CN) Inc., CP's archrival. Prior to that, he headed the Illinois Central Railroad, which was bought by CN in 1998. He is considered one of the top railroad executives of the past 30 years.
"The board welcomes Mr. Harrison's experience and leadership to CP," said Paul Haggis, CP's chairman, in a statement. "We look forward to benefiting from his strong track record of service reliability, efficient asset utilization, and strategic capital expenditure."
Harrison himself seems optimistic about the Canadian Pacific's future. "CP is an incredible franchise with significant market opportunity, solid infrastructure, and innovative and hard-working employees," Harrison said in the same statement.