Paul Haggis elected as new chairman at Canadian Pacific Railway

CALGARY – Three weeks after a bitter proxy battle with an activist hedge fund, Canadian Pacific Railway has elected Paul Haggis as chairman of the company’s board of directors.

New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management succeeded in May in its months-long battle to oust now former CEO Fred Green, a 34-year veteran of the railroad.

At that time, Haggis was among seven Pershing Square nominees appointed to a newly formed board. Nine existing CP directors still sit on the new board.

CP (TSX:CP) is now in the process of searching for a new CEO. Railway veteran Stephen Tobias, a Pershing nominee to the board, is currently serving as interim CEO while a committee hunts for a new leader.

Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square, CP’s largest shareholder with a 14 per cent stake, had been pushing to replace Green with Hunter Harrison, the retired boss of rival railroad Canadian National Railway Co. (TSX:CNR).

But Ackman has said the company is going to conduct a thorough search and meet all candidates for the top job before making any decisions.

The defeat of CP’s former leaders had been widely anticipated as a number of institutional fund managers disclosed they would support the board nominees proposed by Ackman.

Green’s detractors had said CP has become North America’s worst performing major railway under his leadership while his supporters insisted the problems had been exaggerated.

In a statement released Monday night, CP said Haggis — currently chairman of the Alberta Enterprise Corporation as well as C.A. Bancorp Inc — had extensive financial markets and public board experience.

He serves as a corporate director at several public and crown corporations including Advantage Oil and Gas Ltd. and Liberty Silver Corporation, and is an advisor to the Investment Committee of Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, a body he directed until December.

Haggis was also previously the president and CEO of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and head of Alberta Treasury Branches.

“I am proud to be part of this great company,” Haggis said in a statement. “The board is united in its commitment to serving the best interests of CP. We are confident in the depth and breadth of this board and its ability to work with management and all CP employees to serve our customers.”