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June 5, 2017 4:00 PM, EDT
CSX Shareholders Approve $84 Million Payday to Harrison Despite Health Concerns
Norm Betts/Bloomberg News

Despite some concerns in recent weeks about the health of CSX CEO Hunter Harrison, 72, shareholders overwhelmingly approved a resolution to pay him $84 million to recoup money he forfeited when he left Canadian Pacific Railway in January.

Voters also elected all 13 nominees to the board of directors listed in the company’s proxy statement, with each nominee receiving at least 96% of the votes.

Stockholders gave a vote of confidence after reports in recent weeks that Harrison used a portable oxygen machine and wasn’t very active in day-to-day operations.

“Hunter did have a small, portable/handheld oxygen tank, but any initial concerns from the optics were largely quieted when he spoke, as he sounded in good form both in tone as well as in content,” wrote Citi Global Markets Inc. analyst Christian Wetherbee, who attended the meeting. “Notably, an early question about Hunter’s health from a shareholder was the only time the issue arose, which we think speaks to the strength and focus of Hunter’s messaging in his responses.”

As expected, Harrison’s remarks at the annual shareholders meeting focused on precision railroading, a concept that prioritizes service, on-time performance and better use of locomotives and railcars, while also keeping costs under control.

Among those elected to the CSX board was Paul Hilal, the activist investor who lured Harrison away from Canadian Pacific and used his ownership stake in CSX to catapult Harrison to the top job.