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CP Rail’s Harrison was paid nearly $20-million last year as stock slipped

CP Rail CEO Hunter Harrison speaks at a Canadian Club luncheon on March 2 2015.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Hunter Harrison, chief executive officer of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., was paid $19.9-million in 2015, a year in which the company's shares fell by 20 per cent amid a sell-off in railway shares.

The compensation package included a salary of $2.8-million and stock and options worth $9.8-million. His bonus of $6-million was down by $1.2-million from 2014. Mr. Harrison's 2015 compensation included a number other items, such as personal use of the company aircraft worth $1-million.

Mr. Harrison's salary is paid in U.S. dollars. His total compensation rose by 6 per cent, but would have decreased by 8 per cent had the Canadian dollar not plunged in value, CP said in its proxy statement released on Monday evening.

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Mr. Harrison became CEO of the railway in 2012 after a boardroom battle led by activist investor William Ackman. Under his leadership, CP has posted record sales and profits. The share price has risen 126 per cent since his arrival, outperforming that of other railways and the broader stock market.

"Although Mr. Harrison's total compensation is much higher than his peers, the return to shareholders during his tenure is equally impressive," CP said. "Mr. Harrison's total compensation value from June, 2012, to December, 2015, is 0.67 per cent of the total additional value created for shareholders over the same period ($14,236,601,584)."

Mr. Harrison is under contract until 2017, and then operating chief Keith Creel is expected to take over.

Mr. Creel made a total of $7.5-million in 2015, including a bonus of $1.6-million.

CP has been pursuing a takeover of Virginia-based Norfolk Southern Corp., a merger that would create North America's biggest railway by route miles.

After the rejection of three offers, valued at about $28-billion (U.S.), CP said it will submit a shareholder resolution at Norfolk Southern's next annual meeting that will ask the company's board to talk with CP.

Norfolk Southern, U.S. politicians and several groups representing rail customers in the eastern half of the United States have said the merger would be bad for service, and unlikely to receive the regulator's approval.

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CP disagrees, and says that if Mr. Harrison took charge of Norfolk Southern, the railway would enjoy many of the same improvements he has driven at CP, including a higher share price and improved operating efficiencies.

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