Posts Tagged ‘CSX CEO Michael Ward’

CSX CEO Ward to Retire on May 31

February 21, 2017

On Tuesday CSX Corp. announced that Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Ward and President Clarence Gooden will retire, effective May 31.

Fredrik Eliasson, a 22-year veteran of the company and current Chief Sales and Marketing

Michael Ward

Michael Ward

Officer, has been appointed as President effective Feb. 15.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad in a statement described the changes as an “orderly transition” of senior leadership, adding it is continuing discussions with Hunter Harrison and activist investor Mantle Ridge regarding Harrison becoming CEO at CSX.

CSX said that the elevation of Eliasson to the president’s post was not intended to affect the discussions with Harrison of Mantle Ridge, which owns less than 5 percent of CSX stock.

“On behalf of CSX’s Board of Directors, I want to thank Michael and Clarence for their many years of dedicated service and contributions to our company,” said Edward J. Kelly III, Presiding Director. “Michael has helped build CSX into one of the nation’s leading transportation and logistics companies, and Clarence has similarly provided valuable leadership across CSX’s sales, marketing and operations teams. We wish both the best in their retirements.”

Eliasson, 46, will maintain his current responsibilities in his new position. He has served as executive vice president and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer since September 2015, and prior to that was Chief Financial Officer from 2012-15. He joined CSX in 1995.

In an other development, Ward said today that 1,000 CSX management positions would be eliminated in a cost cutting move.

The job cuts will affect positions at CSX headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as various field offices.

CSX Sets Special Board Meeting on March 16 to Consider Mantle Ridge Proposal to Make Hunter Harrison CEO

February 15, 2017

Hunter Harrison and the Mantle Ridge hedge fund will get their day before the CSX board of directors and shareholders.

CSX logo 1The board on Tuesday agreed to call a special meeting for March 16 at a time and place to be named later to consider the hedge fund’s “extraordinary requests.”

Mantle Ridge has proposed making Harrison the CSX CEO. Harrison last month retired early as head of Canadian Pacific so that he could, presumably, seek the top job at CSX.

Harrison and CP sought unsuccessfully to merge with Norfolk Southern l;ast year but that company’s board rejected the overtures.

In a news release, CSX said Mantle Ridge has acquired less than 5 percent of its stock but is seeking compensation and control far in excess of the scope of its stock ownership.

CSX acknowledged that it has held talks with Harrison and Mantle Ridge during which the hedge fund demanded substantial representation on the CSX Board and that Harrison immediately replace current CSX CEO Michael Ward.

The railroad said it has made several offers to Harrison and Mantle Ridge that would have made Harrison the CSX CEO and given Mantle Ridge three seats on the CSX board.

Mantle Ridge has rejected those offers and countered with its own demands, many of which focus on Harrison’s compensation and the composition of the CSX board.

One noteworthy point made in the CSX news release is that Mantle Ridge has agreed to compensate Harrison for the millions of dollars he agreed to forgo when he retired early from CP. Mantle Ridge wants CSX to make up most or all of that.

Harrison has also rejected a CSX request that he take a physical exam.

CSX said in its statement that it is wary of granting control to a shareholder who holds less than 5 percent of its stock and is demanding benefits from CSX that may exceed $100 million.

CSX said the requested reimbursement and tax indemnity could exceed $300 million and are thus extraordinary in scope and structured largely as an upfront payment and as equity grants that would be payable to Mr. Harrison upon his death or disability with only a portion of the equity grant including any performance metrics.

“The CSX Board is committed to being responsive to the interests of its shareholders and has closely observed the market reaction to Mr. Harrison’s possible employment,” the railroad said in its statement.  “Accordingly, in light of the unusual circumstances surrounding Mantle Ridge’s approach the CSX Board has decided to seek guidance from shareholders on whether CSX should agree to Mr. Harrison’s and Mantle Ridge’s proposals.

CSX said it would schedule its regular board meeting, usually held in May, after the special March meeting.

CSX Extends Deadline for Board Nominees

February 11, 2017

CSX on Friday said it would extend the deadline for nominations to its board of directors.

CSX logo 1The move is being seen as a ploy to give the Mantel Ridge hedge fund more time to negotiate an agreement with the railroad to make E. Hunter Harrison its CEO.

The deadline for board nominees had been Feb. 10 but has been extended to Feb. 24.

Harrison retired early from Canadian Pacific last month and has teamed up with Paul Hilal of Mantle Ridge to seek a management change at CSX.

News reports have said CSX and Harrison have had discussions about that prospect, but the number of seats on the board supported by Mantle Ridge has been a sticking point.

In retiring early from CP, Harrison gave up tens of millions in compensation in exchange for CP giving him a limited waiver of a non-compete clause.

If Harrison is successful in becoming the CEO of CSX, he would replace Michael Ward, who has said he plans to retire by 2019.

CSX Said to be Talking With Harrison

January 31, 2017

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that CSX and E. Hunter Harrison are in negotiations about the railroad’s CEO position.

CSX logo 3Harrison has presented to CSX management his plans to revamp CSX. The former CEO of Canadian Pacific, Canadian National and Illinois Central, is teaming up with Paul Hilal of the Mantle Ridge hedge fund to seek a management shakeup at CSX.

Mantle Ridge was reported to be seeking three seats on the 12-seat CSX board of directors, a demand that may be a source of conflict the Journal reported.

News reports indicate that Harrison met with CSX officials last Friday in Atlanta.

If CSX, Harrison and Mantle Ridge are unable to reach an agreement, then the hedge fund has until Feb. 10 to nominate candidates to the CSX board. CSX usually holds its annual meeting in May.

It is not clear what plans that Harrison and Mantle Ridge have for revamping operations at
CSX.

In the past year, CSX management under current CEO Michael Ward has retooled rail operations. Among other steps, CSX has emphasized longer trains and focusing capital expenditures on core routes.

In 2015, Ward said he planned to remain the CSX CEO for three more years after Oscar Munoz, who was expected to replace Ward, left to head United Airlines.

While at CP last year, Harrison unsuccessfully sought a merger with Norfolk Southern.

Some analysts on Wall Street believe CSX will be receptive to having Harrison as CEO because of his experience in leading other class 1 railroads.

CP Won’t Bar Harrison from Working for CSX

January 25, 2017

A regulatory filing made by Canadian Pacific with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows where E. Hunter Harrison can and cannot work under the terms of his non-compete agreement with CP.

E. Hunter Harrison

E. Hunter Harrison

Harrison, who recently stepped down as CP’s CEO, cannot work for Canadian National, BNSF or Union Pacific. But he could work for CSX, Norfolk Southern or Kansas City Southern.

CP granted Harrison a limited waiver of the non-compete clause, which also included waiving a provision that Harrison is not permitted to solicit for employment at another company any CP employees above the level of manager.

Specifically, CP’s waiver makes an exception for the railroad’s chief of staff.

News reports have said that Harrison is teaming up with activist investor Paul Hilal of the firm Mantle Ridge to oust CSX CEO Michael Ward.

Some believe that Harrison would use being the head of CSX to lead a merger effort. Last year Harrison and CP unsuccessfully sought to merge with NS.

If Harrison does make a bid to become part the CSX CEO, he will have until Feb. 10 to do so under the terms of the CSX bylaws for nominating members of the board of directors and filing resolutions to be heard during the annual meeting, which is usually held in May.

CSX Responds to Harrison Moves

January 21, 2017

CSX responded to news reports that E. Hunter Harrison may seek to oust current CSX management by issuing a statement that supported the company’s current executive team and its strategies.

CSX logo 3A CSX spokesman said in the statement: “CSX Corp. welcomes the views of all of our shareholders and always considers their thoughts on the company’s business strategy. Likewise, its board and management team remain supportive of the company’s strategic growth strategy, which has started to deliver sustainable value for shareholders.

“The company and its board of directors will actively evaluate Mantle Ridge’s views and look forward to discussing our core strategy to continue driving earnings growth and shareholder value going forward with Mantle Ridge and all our shareholders.”

The statement referred  to reports that Harrison is retiring from Canadian Pacific earlier than planned and has teamed up with venture capital firm Mantle Ridge to seek to oust CSX CEO Michael Ward.

Harrison would, presumably, become the CEO of CSX and install his own management team.

 

 

Harrison Eyes Taking Over CSX as CEO

January 19, 2017

E. Hunter Harrison is back in the takeover game and setting his sights on wresting away control of CSX from current CEO Michael Ward.

E. Hunter Harrison

E. Hunter Harrison

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Harrison, who fought an unsuccessful bid in early 2016 to acquire Norfolk Southern, has teamed up with Paul Hilal, a principal at hedge fund Mantle Ridge, to prod CSX to make a management change.

Hilal was formerly with Pershing Square Capital. The latter is run by William Ackman, who played a key role in getting Harrison named CEO at Canadian Pacific in 2012 after winning a proxy fight.

Harrison, 72, this week said he is severing his ties with CP before his official retirement from the company.

He will be succeeded at CP by Keith Creel, effective Jan. 31. In the interim, Harrison is reported to be on vacation and Creel will assume Harrison’s duties.

Harrison has agreed to sell all of his shares of CP stock by May 31 and the CP board of directors agreed to provide him with a limited waiver of a non-compete clause to which he would otherwise be subjected.

In return for waiving the non-compete clause, Harrison will forgo all roles he had with CP and give up substantially all benefits and perquisites to which he was entitled. The total value of those forfeited benefits is $89 million.

The CSX takeover attempt would be Harrison’s second. CSX rejected his overtures in 2014.

The WSJ reported that CP will not participate in any effort that Harrison makes to gain control of CSX.

Hilal left Pershing Square last year to start his own activist fund, which has raised more than $1 billion for a single investment, according to the WSJ. Those investors reportedly have committed to keeping money in the fund for five years.

Harrison became the CEO of CP after Ackman led a proxy fight that resulted in the ouster of CP CEO Fred Green.

If Harrison and Hilal follow that same script at CSX, they will seek to oust Ward, who has indicated he plans to retire in 2019.

Hilal was with Pershing Square at the time of the CP takeover and recruited Harrison, who had been CEO of Canadian National.

Railway Age magazine quoted Cowen and Company Managing Director Jason Seidl as observing, “Hunter left C$118 million in equity awards on the table, which indicates to us he still has a burning desire to run a railroad. His reputation of being the most sought after manager in the North American railroad industry could make it very difficult for CSX to refute Harrison’s desire to run its franchise.”

Seidl told Railway Age that a CSX takeover would differ from what Harrison attempted at NS because the latter involved a merger whereas the CSX gambit would be just a management switch.

Railway Age quoted an unnamed railroad industry analyst as predicting that if Harrison is able to become head of CSX a merger with CP will not likely be one of his first priorities.

The analyst said that Harrison could be expected to change the CSX engineering, train operations and capital investments plans that Ward’s management team has been implementing over the past year.

Given Harrison’s track record, the analyst expects that he would impose at CSX a more aggressive capital expenditure downsizing and reduce its labor force.

Harrison would not be likely to institute more aggressive marketing and selling promotions, but would oversee creating more discipline in CSX train operations.

CSX 2016 4th Quarter Earnings Fell 2%, But Revenue Up 9% When Compared with 2015

January 19, 2017

CSX said this week that its 2016 fourth quarter net earnings fell by 2 percent to $458 million, or 49 cents per share.

CSX logo 1That compares to $466 million, or 48 cents per share that it earned in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Fourth quarter 2016 revenue was up by 9 percent to $3 billion compared with $2.78 billion a year ago.

CSX said that factors affecting its fourth quarter performance included an operating property sale and a debt refinancing charge, both of which were $0.08 per share and offset each other in the quarter.

The final quarter of 2016 also included an additional accounting week resulting from the company’s 52/53 week fiscal reporting calendar, which benefited earnings per share by $0.03 per share.

CSX said expenses increased 2 percent while operating income was $1 billion, which included the $115 million gain from the property sale and the $62 million benefit from the extra week.

During 2016, “the industry continued to face headwinds from low global commodity prices and strength of the U.S. dollar,” CSX said in a news release

For CSX this meant that it generated $11.1 billion in revenue as volume declined 5 percent overall with a 21 percent decline in its coal traffic.

Earning per share for 2016 were $1.81, operating income was $3.4 billion and the railroad posted an operating ratio of 69.4 percent.

“In an environment where the company lost almost $470 million of coal revenue and experienced weakness across most of its markets, CSX delivered nearly $430 million of productivity savings in 2016, while improving customer service,” said CEO Michael J. Ward in a statement. “With business conditions gradually improving and the ongoing transformation into the CSX of Tomorrow, we will continue to deliver sustainable shareholder value.”

CSX CEO Ward Says 1-Person Crews Inevitable

January 19, 2017

One-person operating crews are inevitable CSX CEO Michael Ward said this week during a conference call with financial analysts and investors.

Michael Ward

Michael Ward

Ward told his audience, “It’s just a question of when.” Driving the move toward one-person crews will be autonomous trucks and delivery vehicles.

“There’s going to be autonomous vehicles out there. There’s no question,” Ward said. “The only question is when and how much they will be deployed.”

The CSX head also said the completion of positive train control by 2020 will also pave the way toward one-person crews.

Getting labor unions to agree to one-person crews will be a challenge, Ward noted.

CSX Trains Using New Washington Tunnel

December 27, 2016

CSX said that it has completed the first phase of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project in Washington, D.C., to allow double-stacked intermodal trains to travel between Midwest terminals and Atlantic seaports.

CSX logo 1The first train used the new southern tunnel on Dec. 23 en route from North Baltimore, Ohio, to Portsmouth, Virginia.

The last of 61 clearance projects in the $850 million National Gateway Initiative, the entire project is slated to be finished in mid-2018. Work has begun on the northern tunnel.

“Clearing the National Gateway for double-stack freight creates more efficient, more environmentally friendly routes to move the essential goods that fuel today’s economy,” said Michael J. Ward, CSX chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “Thanks to the support of our federal and state partners over the past eight years and the commitment of CSX’s shareholders to invest in the company’s future, the double-stack-cleared National Gateway will allow CSX to better meet the needs of consumers and businesses throughout the eastern U.S. for decades to come.”