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Vena out of the running as next CN CEO

Vena out of the running as next CN CEO

A photograph of a CN train traveling away from a high mountain range.

Former CN and Union Pacific executive Jim Vena has taken himself out of running to be the next CEO for Canadian railway CN.

Vena had been meeting with CN’s CEO search committee, but he took himself out of the process over the weekend, CN (NYSE: CNI) said in a Monday release.

Vena was the candidate put forth by TCI Fund Management, a U.K.-based activist investor that also proposed four potential CN board candidates. 

TCI had sought to replace CN’s leadership following the failed attempt to acquire Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU). KCS had previously decided to merge with CN, but ultimately opted for CN rival Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) after U.S. federal regulators chose not to approve a voting trust that CN would establish as part of the process to acquire KCS. 

Jim Vena (Photo: Union Pacific)

Current CN CEO JJ Ruest announced in October his plans to retire. 

“Last evening, Mr. Vena notified the board that he is no longer interested in pursuing the role and has withdrawn from the process,” CN said Monday. “CN has only provided an update on this search process because TCI has requisitioned a special meeting of shareholders on March 22, 2022, with one goal being to have Mr. Vena appointed CEO of CN.” 

CN continued, “CN previously disclosed to shareholders that Mr. Vena would be seriously considered for the position. Since Mr. Vena is no longer being considered for this position, CN believed it was appropriate to provide shareholders with an update.”

CN expects to announce a new CEO in January. Its search committee, consisting of board members Shauneen Bruder, Justin Howell, Robert Phillips and Kevin Lynch, has been interviewing “a number of outstanding candidates.” 

The next CEO would be responsible for spearheading CN’s efforts to “build the railway of the future using digital innovation to drive safety, operational excellence, customer experience and enhanced long-term shareholder value.”

“CN’s board remains committed to finding the right leader to continue our ambitions to build the premier railway for the 21st century and deliver immediate and long-term value to all shareholders, while retaining our commitment to safety, customer service and the communities we serve,” CN said.

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20 December 2021, 18:54