Paul Haggis, the former head of Alberta Treasury Branches, has been named as the new chairman of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.
Mr. Haggis is one of seven Pershing Square Capital Management LP nominees appointed last month to CP’s board of directors after a bitter proxy fight.
All seven of Pershing Square’s nominees made it onto the railway’s 16-member board in a battle that resulted in the resignation of CP chief executive officer Fred Green, as well as the departure of CP chairman John Cleghorn.
Mr. Green, Mr. Cleghorn and four other CP directors did not seek re-election after being effectively forced out by New York-based Pershing Square, which had mounted an aggressive campaign to replace Mr. Green with former Canadian National Railway Co. CEO Hunter Harrison.
At Calgary-based CP’s annual meeting on May 17, long-time director Madeleine Paquin was named acting chairwoman.
CP is now conducting an executive search for a new CEO, though Pershing Square has been touting Mr. Harrison as the best candidate to spearhead a turnaround at the underperforming railway.
Pershing Square, which has a 14.2 per cent stake in CP, hired Mr. Harrison as a consultant last fall to help the hedge fund assess investing in the Calgary-based railway.
“I am proud to be part of this great company,” Mr. Haggis said late Monday in a statement issued by CP announcing he had been elected chairman. “On behalf of my fellow board members, I reiterate that the board is united in its commitment to serving the best interests of CP. We are confident in the depth and breadth of this board and its ability to work with management and all CP employees to serve our customers.”
Voting results of the hotly contested boardroom proxy contest at CP showed that the dissident slate of directors backed by Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman won close to 90 per cent of votes tendered.
According to a statement released by CP last month, Mr. Ackman and his six boardroom nominees individually garnered between 83 per cent and 93 per cent of the submitted votes. Mr. Ackman won the greatest number of votes cast with 92.7 per cent.
The nominees put forward by CP earned a sharply lower share of the ballots cast, ranging from 48.1 per cent for director Linda Morgan to 32.9 per cent for Ms. Paquin.
CP did not provide results for the six directors with the least votes, including Mr. Cleghorn, who agreed not to stand for re-election the day before the annual meeting after early voting data showed those six incumbents had insufficient shareholder support.
“Mr. Haggis has extensive financial markets and public board experience and is currently chairman of the Alberta Enterprise Corp., as well as C.A. Bancorp Inc.,” CP said Monday.
Provincially backed Alberta Enterprise is a venture capital firm that invests in technology start-ups.
Mr. Haggis has been an activist in his own right in the past, notably a controversial term from 1996 to 2001 at provincially owned Alberta Treasury Branches, now called ATB Financial Inc.
As ATB's CEO, he tightened the financial institution's lending practices in the late 1990s, making moves that clashed with Peter Pocklington, the former owner of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers. Mr. Haggis oversaw the dismantling of Mr. Pocklington's business empire and also engaged in a legal fight against the Ghermezian family, owners of West Edmonton Mall.
Edmonton-based ATB, a provincial Crown corporation, reached an out-of-court settlement with the Ghermezians in 2002, eight years after Mr. Haggis's predecessor at ATB approved a $418-million loan package to the shopping mall in a transaction that opposition Alberta politicians dubbed a sweetheart deal.
From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Haggis led the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, one of the country's largest pension funds. His departure came after a showdown with the board at OMERS