Ms. Robinson is the first woman to lead a major Canadian freight railway. Currently president of a TC Energy division, Ms. Robinson replaces chief executive officer Jean-Jacques Ruest, who is retiring after a 25-year career at the Montreal-based railway, as reported by The Globe and Mail.
Mr. Ruest and certain directors of CN were the target of a months-long campaign by major shareholder TCI Fund Management to overhaul the company’s leadership after CN failed in its US$29.8-billion takeover bid for U.S. railway Kansas City Southern. CN lost the battle for KCS to rival Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. when U.S. regulators ruled against CN’s plan last summer.
TCI said it was unhappy with CN’s financial and stock performance in recent years, arguing the railway needed improvements in management and operations. CN in October announced the planned departure of Mr. Ruest, CEO since 2018, amid pressure from TCI, its second-biggest investor, with a 5.2 per cent stake.
But CN and TCI said on Tuesday their battle is now over, announcing the two sides have agreed CN and TCI will mutually appoint two independent directors with railroad experience by the spring. Additionally, CN named former politician Jean Charest as an independent director, and director Shauneen Bruder as vice-chair of the board.
Before joining TC Energy, Ms. Robinson worked for 27 years at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., holding executive roles in operations and finance. Her appointment becomes effective on Feb. 28.
“She knows the railroad,” Mr. Ruest told analysts on a conference call on Tuesday. “She knows the network. She knows the competition. She’s passionate about railroading. In my view, she is a railroader.”
Ms. Robinson holds a master’s degree from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Saskatchewan.
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