Harrison on Medical Leave From CSX

CSX announced Thursday night that CEO E. Hunter Harrison has taken a medical leave of absence and Chief Operating Officer James Foote is serving as acting CEO.

E. Hunter Harrison

The announcement said Harrison is dealing with complications from a recent illness.

A conference call was to be held on Friday morning to discuss the situation.

Harrison has been thought to have health issues for some time. It was reported earlier this year that he sometimes uses supplemental oxygen and that due to an undisclosed illness he has curtailed his traveling.

Concerns about Harrison’s health had been an issue early this year after hedge fund Mantle Ridge acquired a block of CSX stock and pushed for the company to make him CEO.

The CSX board of directors had demanded that Harrison’s medical records be examined by independent physicians, but he declined and the demand was later dropped.

Foote worked with Harrison years ago at Canadian National and was brought to CSX this past October with the idea of eventually succeeding Harrison as CEO of CSX.

“Hunter is a good friend and has been a colleague of mine for many years. He is an icon in the industry and we pray for his speedy recovery,” Foote said in a statement. “I have been following the CSX story very closely since January, but did not realize just how much progress Hunter and CSX’s able team have made replicating the transformation we effected at Canadian National some years ago.”

Harrison agreed to a four-year contract when he agreed to become CEO of CSX.

In his statement, Foote said that the precision scheduled railroading operating model is well in place at CSX and “the company has amassed the critical talent – through education of the internal team and supplementation with a complement of strong PSR operating veterans and a strongly supportive Board – sufficient to follow through and execute on the PSR operating plan.”

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