Canadian National Railway Co. plans to compete vigorously against rival Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. , which may be on the verge of being led by former CN boss Hunter Harrison.
Like a sports rivalry, “you don’t get to pick who’s on the other team,” CN chief executive officer Claude Mongeau said Tuesday, after a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade.
“We will compete hard, whoever is the leader there,” Mr. Mongeau said.
Montreal-based CN objects to Mr. Harrison’s plan to come out of retirement to replace CP CEO Fred Green. CN launched legal proceedings in January against Mr. Harrison because he has allegedly run afoul of his non-compete pact by aligning himself with activist investor Bill Ackman.
“It’s for the shareholders of CP and the board of directors of CP to decide who will lead them going forward,” Mr. Mongeau said. “We’ve asked for our contract with Mr. Harrison to be respected.”
Pershing Square Capital Management LP, CP’s largest shareholder, says it has the edge in its proxy fight against the Calgary-based railway. The New York-based hedge fund is proposing to elect an alternative slate of seven nominees to CP’s board of directors and shake up management.
The battle will culminate at CP’s annual meeting in Calgary on Thursday.
Further CN-CP co-operation such as sharing track rights could be possible, but most of the major opportunities have been already acted on, Mr. Mongeau said.
He added that he isn’t concerned about CP potentially poaching executives from CN. “We have good chemistry at the leadership team,” he said, noting that CN has “deep bench strength.”
In his speech, Mr. Mongeau emphasized that CN’s “commitment to excellence, value creation and sustainability will guide us moving forward as we seek to continue our transformational journey.”