Suncor Energy Inc.’s former chief executive officer has resigned from Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.’s board of directors as the freight carrier edges closer to naming a new CEO.
Rick George’s departure comes on the heels of the exit of another CP director, David Raisbeck. The two resignations have left the Calgary-based railway with 14 directors.
CP has no plans to fill either vacancy, meaning the board now has seven incumbent CP directors and seven new members who were appointed in May after U.S. hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management LP won a bitter proxy fight against the railway.
Mr. George served as Calgary-based Suncor’s CEO from 1991 to May 1, 2012. He joined CP’s board in May, 2011.
“Rick has made a strong contribution to the board, providing valuable insight and guidance. The board wishes to thank him for his many contributions to the company, particularly his leadership in the board’s search for a new CEO,” CP chairman Paul Haggis said in a statement.
CP announced on June 11 that Mr. Raisbeck, Cargill Inc.’s former vice-chairman, resigned from the railway’s board.
CP and outside advisers are in the final stages of completing their search for a new CEO to replace Fred Green, who stepped down in May after Pershing Square mounted an aggressive campaign to oust him.
Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman has touted Hunter Harrison, the former CEO at rival Canadian National Railway Co., as the best candidate to replace Mr. Green and spearhead efforts to turn around underperforming CP.
Mr. Harrison remains the favourite to be named CEO before the company releases its second-quarter results on July 25, said transportation policy analyst Greg Gormick, who worked on consulting contracts for CP from 1988 to 2009. CP directors held a board meeting on Tuesday in Calgary.
Industry observers say CP directors are keen to wrap up the executive search, but they want to ensure the selection process is thorough.
Mr. Ackman, Mr. Haggis and five other nominees from a dissident slate backed by Pershing Square joined CP’s board at the railway’s annual meeting on May 17. Six people, including Mr. Green and former CP chairman John Cleghorn, agreed not to stand for re-election the day before that meeting after early vote results showed they had insufficient shareholder support.
New York-based Pershing Square is CP’s largest shareholder, with a 14.2-per-cent stake. Pershing Square has vowed to guarantee Mr. Harrison’s retirement benefits if CN prevails in persuading a U.S. court to uphold the Montreal-based railway’s decision to cancel its former CEO’s pension and other payments.
Former Norfolk Southern Corp. vice-chairman Stephen Tobias has been serving as interim CP CEO for the past six weeks.