Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison is retiring at the end of this month, the company announced Wednesday.
Harrison, who took over as CEO of CP in June 2012, will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel, who has served as Harrison’s second and command and has been groomed as his replacement.
“Hunter has made enormous contributions to CP, and we are forever grateful for his years of service,” said Andrew F. Reardon, Chairman of the Board, in a news release. “We have a tremendous CEO-in-waiting in Keith Creel. Keith and his team are ready to formally take the reins.”
Harrison said leaving CP Rail was “bittersweet.”
“I have had a wonderful experience and depart with many friends and with full confidence in Keith’s ability to build on the great success we have enjoyed,” he said.
Harrison was hired as CP’s CEO in 2012 after activist investor Bill Ackman led a takeover of the company’s board of directors. CP’s stock value has more than doubled under his leadership as he worked to increase the company’s operating performance by laying off employees, closing yards. lengthening trains, and more.
He was scheduled to retired at the end of June, but the announcement indicates Harrison, 71, is looking to pursue opportunities at another railway company. According to CP Rail, he is forgoing $118 million in benefits and awards by leaving five months earlier than scheduled.
Harrison was the third highest paid Canadian CEO in 2015, with total earnings of $19.9 million, including salary, stock options, salary and other forms of compensation.
He won’t be missed by train crews in Revelstoke, who have complained bitterly of their working conditions since he came on board. Things are unlikely to change with Creel at the helm; he worked with Harrison at CN Rail and later joined him at CP.