CN Rail to Name New CEO Next Month; Candidate Jim Vena Drops Out

Canadian National train
Canadian National Railway

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Canadian National Railway Co. dropped the most in eight months after saying that Jim Vena, a former executive favored by shareholder TCI Fund Management Ltd. to run the company, had dropped from consideration to replace CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest.

Vena, a former Canadian National chief operating officer, told the board over the weekend that he no longer is interested in being CEO, the railroad said in a statement Dec. 20. The company said it expects to announce a new leader next month.

The withdrawal is a blow to TCI, the railroad’s second-largest shareholder, after the investment firm, run by billionaire Chris Hohn, launched a campaign to remake the board and install Vena after the company’s ill-fated pursuit of Kansas City Southern.



Ruest said in October that he would step down in January, a surprise announcement less than four years after he took the job. Canadian Pacific Railway Co. ultimately won the contest to acquire Kansas City Southern.

Paul Singer’s Elliott Investment Management LP, which also has a sizable investment in Canadian National, had expressed support for Vena as well.

Canadian National fell 4.91% to C$156.06 at 9:46 a.m. in Toronto after dropping 5.6%, the most intraday since April 20. The stock had climbed 17% this year through Dec. 17, while the S&P/TSX index advanced 19%.

Canadian National said it “has identified and continues to interview a number of outstanding candidates” in a process aided by Korn Ferry. The railroad said it was providing the update because TCI had requisitioned a special shareholder meeting for March with the goal of getting Vena appointed CEO.

TCI and Elliott didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

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