|If the price is right, CN will buy, CEO says|
|April 26, 2005
Canadian National Railway Co. is looking to acquire more small railways in Canada and the United States, its chief executive
officer said yesterday. Hunter Harrison said it is unlikely there will be a transaction with one of the continent's few large railways,
but the company is looking at smaller opportunities like its acquisition of BC Rail Ltd. last year.
"If we can find a railroad at the right price we'll certainly take a look at it," Mr. Harrison said after the company's annual meeting.
"There are still small railroad opportunities, regional rails, short lines, some switching carriers that we'd have an interest in if they
were for sale at the right price."
Mr. Harrison said he's particularly interested in railways that hand off cars to CN, and those that are under financial pressure. "If
they're having problems, that impacts us too."
CN tried to buy Ontario Northland Railway from the Ontario government but talks broke off in 2003 because the government
insisted on job-preservation guarantees.
Mr. Harrison said acquisition is just one way the Montreal-based continental railway plans to continue the growth it has
experienced since the former federal Crown corporation issued its first shares in 1995.
Despite the dominance of CN and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd., the Railway Association of Canada has 57 members, including
small freight railways that took over track sold or abandoned by CN and CP.
Mr. Harrison said CN can continue to grow freight volumes and gain market share from trucks, and is looking for a big impact
from a new container terminal at the port of Prince Rupert, B.C., to which CN has the only rail connection.
The federal and B.C. governments announced last week they were each contributing $30-million to help build the terminal.
CN agreed this week to increase its Prince Rupert contribution to $30-million, not counting $125-million it plans to spend on new
The terminal project is expected to cost $170-million, including $60-million from New Jersey-based Maher Terminals Inc., which
will be the port operator, and $20-million raised by the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
Startup is expected by the end of 2006.
Mr. Harrison said additional traffic from the Prince Rupert container terminal will contribute $100 million in revenue in the first year.
Source: Canadian Press