CSX agrees to speak with firm linked to Hunter

Mantle Ridge formed by former Pershing Square partner that helped take over CP in 2012
RELATED TOPICS: CSX | MERGERS | EAST
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — CSX Transportation executives say the Florida-based railroad will speak with the firm of an activist investor linked in news reports to soon-to-be-retired Canadian Pacific CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

In a statement to the media midday Thursday, Gary Sease, CSX's corporate communications vice president, says that CSX welcomes shareholders' opinions on the company's business strategy.

"The company and its board of directors will actively evaluate Mantle Ridge’s views and look forward to discussing our core strategy to continue driving earnings growth and shareholder value going forward with Mantle Ridge and all our shareholders," Sease wrote.

Mantle Ridge LP is the New York City-based investment fund led by Paul Hilal. According to Reuters' website, Hilal was a partner of famed investor Bill Ackman whose Pershing Square Capital Management launched the fateful bid to takeover CP in 2012. Reuters reports that Hilal was behind the Pershing Square proxy battle then. He left Ackman's firm in October to former Mantle Ridge.

It is unclear if Mantle Ridge already owns shares in the railroad's parent company, CSX Corp., or if Hilal is threatening to buy shares in the company through his firm.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported that Hilal and Harrison had joined forces to push for change at CSX.

A Bloomberg business research report says Hilal is a graduate of Harvard University who earned masters in business and law degrees from Columbia University in 1992.

The CSX statement comes less than a day after Harrison's early retirement became public on a Wednesday CP earnings call. CP officials said that they released Harrison from a non-compete clause in his contract after he severed all ties with the Canadian railroad and gave up substantially all of his earned retirement package valued at more than $100 million.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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