Tag Archives: Merger

CP ‘disappointed’ in UP CEO’s comments on proposed NS merger

Canadian Pacific officials today said they were “surprised and disappointed” to learn that Union Pacific Railroad‘s chief executive is reportedly working behind the scenes with other railroads to prevent consolidation of the Class I rail industry.

They reiterated their view that a CP merger with Norfolk Southern Corp. would enhance competition and is in the public’s interest. They noted that UP itself has been the product of numerous mergers that “created one of the largest route networks in North America.”

“It is unfortunate that UP would try to use political pressure to co-opt the regulatory process and prevent other railroads from enjoying these same benefits and becoming more effective competitors to UP,” CP officials said in a press release.

UP Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Lance Fritz was quoted by the Journal of Commerce as saying a CP-NS merger is not in the best interest of the rail industry or customers. Fritz was speaking to attendees of the annual winter meeting of Midwest Association of Rail Shippers, according to the Journal.

A CP-NS merger would damage competition and set off a string of consolidations that would present challenging headwinds to the North American rail industry, the Journal reported.

There are a lot of risks in front of us. I’ve outlined a lot of them,” Fritz said, according to the Journal. “But, job 1, from our perspective, is to stop a Class I merger from occurring.”

CP officials responded to the reported comments by adding that Fritz’s “attempts to rally support for the status quo among the other Class Is demonstrate a disregard for competition, the processes of the STB, and the needs of shippers and the broader economy.”

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NORFOLK SOUTHERN BOARD OF DIRECTORS UNANIMOUSLY REJECTS UNSOLICITED INDICATION OF INTEREST FROM CANADIAN PACIFIC

Canadian Pacific’s Indication of Interest is Grossly Inadequate and
Not in the Best Interests of Norfolk Southern and Its Shareholders 

Transaction Would Face Substantial Regulatory Risks and Uncertainties Highly Unlikely to Be Overcome

Norfolk Southern Confident That Its Strategic
Plan Will Deliver Compelling Shareholder Value

Norfolk, Va., December 4, 2015 – Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) (“Norfolk Southern” or the “Company”) today announced that its board of directors has unanimously rejected Canadian Pacific’s (TSX:CP)(NYSE:CP) previously announced unsolicited, low-premium, non-binding, highly conditional indication of interest to acquire the Company for $46.72 in cash and a fixed exchange ratio of 0.348 shares in a new company that would own Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern. After a comprehensive review, conducted in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, the Norfolk Southern board concluded that the indication of interest is grossly inadequate, creates substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties that are highly unlikely to be overcome, and is not in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders.

“We believe in our ability to generate greater shareholder value through execution of our strategy – delivering efficient and superior service to build a more profitable franchise based on price and volume growth, implementing efficiency measures, and increasing returns on capital to strengthen our financial performance, all while maintaining our disciplined capital return strategy,” said Chairman, President and CEO James A. Squires. “Norfolk Southern has made growth investments and we expect to realize the benefits of these investments in the years ahead, especially as our intermodal volumes continue to build. Specifically, we expect to achieve an operating ratio below 70 in 2016 with additional improvements over the next five years resulting in increasing ROE and an operating ratio below 65 by 2020. By maximizing our asset utilization, we believe we can achieve double-digit compounded EPS growth over this period. In short, Norfolk Southern is well positioned to deliver compelling value to our shareholders.”

Mr. Squires continued, “There is a high probability that, after years of disruption and expense, the proposed combination would be rejected by the Surface Transportation Board (“STB”). We also believe the STB would reject Canadian Pacific’s proposed voting trust structure, and that there is no certainty that any other voting trust structure would be approved. Even if the proposed combination were ultimately to be cleared, it would be subject to a wide range of onerous conditions that would reduce the value of the stock consideration that has been proposed.”

Mr. Squires concluded, “We believe that Canadian Pacific’s short-term, cut-to-the-bone strategy could cause Norfolk Southern to lose substantial revenues from our service-sensitive customer base. We also believe the proposed transaction risks harm to vital transportation infrastructure and the communities we serve. Any strategy that hurts our customers and the broader community is highly unlikely to receive regulatory approval and is inconsistent with the delivery of shareholder value over the long-term.”

The Norfolk Southern board, composed of 13 directors, 11 of whom are independent, undertook a comprehensive review of the Canadian Pacific proposal. The Norfolk Southern board, in making its determination, considered among other factors:

The Canadian Pacific indication of interest substantially undervalues Norfolk Southern

  • Norfolk Southern, under the direction of its board of directors and a recently appointed Chief Executive Officer, is successfully executing a strategic plan to drive operational improvements. The board is confident that the continued execution of this strategic plan is superior to Canadian Pacific’s grossly inadequate and high-risk proposal
  • The board believes that Canadian Pacific’s indication of interest is opportunistically timed to take advantage of a Norfolk Southern market valuation that has been adversely affected by a challenging commodity price environment, does not fully reflect infrastructure investments Norfolk Southern has made, and does not incorporate the upside from further improvements anticipated to result from the initiatives that the Company is implementing.

Norfolk Southern is successfully executing on its strategy 

  • Norfolk Southern’s management team is successfully executing a number of revenue growth initiatives focused on pricing discipline and growth in merchandise and intermodal market opportunities.
  • Norfolk Southern’s strategic plan is focused on providing superior customer service, continuing the recent improvement in network performance, and implementing efficiency measures, including managing headcount, increasing locomotive productivity, and integrating technological innovations.
  • Norfolk Southern’s strategic plan provides for double-digit compounded EPS growth over the next five years, increasing ROE, and, by 2020, an operating ratio below 65.
  • Norfolk Southern is committed to pursuing a disciplined capital allocation strategy while investing appropriately in its network. Over the past 10 years, since the inception of its share repurchase program, the Company has distributed nearly $15 billion to shareholders, consisting of an average of approximately $1 billion in share repurchases per year and a steadily increasing dividend with a 10-year annual compound growth rate of 14%.

Transaction would face substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties that are highly unlikely to be overcome 

The board believes that the proposed transaction is unlikely to be completed given the substantial regulatory risks. Notably, any transaction must be determined by the STB to both “enhance competition” and be in the “public interest”.

Given the extended review process of two years or more and the uncertainty of approval, there would be significant disruption to Norfolk Southern’s business and operations. 

The Norfolk Southern board also believes that in the event the transaction did close, it would be only after the imposition of substantial regulatory conditions compromising the potential benefits of a combination and reducing the value of the proposed stock consideration.

 

There is no certainty that the STB would approve a voting trust – the voting trust structure proposed by Canadian Pacific is unprecedented and likely would not be approved

  • Contrary to Canadian Pacific’s claims, a voting trust under which a transaction would close prior to final STB approval of the merger would not protect Norfolk Southern shareholders from regulatory uncertainty. Under STB rules established in 2001, any voting trust would require both a public comment period and approval by the STB based on a finding that the voting trust itself is in the public interest. There is no certainty that the STB would approve use of a voting trust.
  • The voting trust structure proposed by Canadian Pacific is unprecedented, and it is highly likely it would be rejected by the STB because the Canadian Pacific management team would control or be substantially involved in the operations of Norfolk Southern prior to receiving regulatory approval of the proposed merger transaction.

The proposed transaction would be detrimental to Norfolk Southern’s customer base and communities

Canadian Pacific’s unilateral open access proposal would undercut the financial performance of the combined entity as well as degrade service and dis-incentivize investment.

Any strategy that adversely impacts Norfolk Southern’s service-sensitive customer base and communities is unlikely to receive regulatory approval and is inconsistent with the delivery of shareholder value over the long-term.

 

Canadian Pacific’s synergy targets are overstated and imply significant reduction in investment to maintain service

Canadian Pacific’s overstated synergy targets imply significant reduction to investment and employment levels, which the board believes would harm service levels and would be unacceptable to the STB.

Operating synergies are limited because the Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern networks serve entirely separate regions and only connect at five points.

Any near-term cost savings that might result from applying Canadian Pacific’s short-term focused operating model on Norfolk Southern would be offset by traffic diversions, service deterioration and loss of service-sensitive customers.

Open access has been widely documented to produce negative revenue synergies from traffic loss and rate compression while also increasing operating costs.

The transaction would not help Chicago congestion issues

  • As the smallest Class 1 railroad in Chicago, accounting for less than 5% of all Chicago rail traffic, Canadian Pacific’s volumes are too small to impact Chicago rail traffic.
  • The proposed transaction would likely increase Chicago congestion.
    • Less than 15% – or less than one train per day – of current
      Canadian Pacific-Norfolk Southern connecting traffic can be efficiently rerouted around Chicago.
    • Further, Norfolk Southern believes that the proposed transaction would cause more, not less, traffic congestion in Chicago. We expect Canadian Pacific would increase revenues by converting interline traffic between Norfolk Southern and both BNSF Railway (“BNSF”) and Union Pacific (“UP”) to single-line traffic in the proposed Canadian Pacific-Norfolk Southern system. Much of this Norfolk Southern traffic with BNSF and UP avoids Chicago today. Unlike BNSF and UP, Canadian Pacific does not have efficient Chicago bypass routes, so Canadian Pacific would have to route most of this traffic through Chicago.
  • Not only do the lines of Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern not physically connect in Chicago, but neither company’s traffic can be moved to other Canadian Pacific-Norfolk Southern connecting points without all constituencies incurring substantial extra miles, cost and time.
  • The following is the text of the letter that was sent on December 4, 2015, to Canadian Pacific’s Chief Executive Officer, E. Hunter Harrison​​​​​​, and its Chairman of the Board, Andrew F. Reardon.

 

Mr. E. Hunter Harrison
Chief Executive Officer

Canadian Pacific
7550 Ogden Dale Road S.E.
Calgary, AB T2C 4X9
Canada

Mr. Andrew F. Reardon
Chairman of the Board
Canadian Pacific

Dear Mr. Reardon and Mr. Harrison:

The board of directors of Norfolk Southern Corporation, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, has carefully reviewed your letter dated November 9, 2015, that we received on November 17, 2015, regarding a potential acquisition of Norfolk Southern. After a thorough analysis, the board of directors has unanimously determined that the proposed consideration set forth in your letter of $46.72 in cash plus 0.348 shares in a new company which would own Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern is grossly inadequate and substantially undervalues Norfolk Southern. Further, the board determined that the transaction proposed by you gives rise to substantial risks and uncertainties and is not in the best interest of Norfolk Southern and its shareholders.

The risks and uncertainties result from the substantial regulatory hurdles that exist, which are highly unlikely to be overcome. We believe the regulatory review process would take two years or more from now, with a very low likelihood of approval. Even in the unlikely event of approval, Norfolk Southern would be in limbo for this extended period, causing loss of momentum and disruption to our business and operations. In addition, substantial regulatory conditions would be required to win regulatory approval, adversely affecting the value of the combined company and the stock our shareholders would receive.

While you have publicly raised the possibility that a voting trust could be used so a transaction could be closed before full regulatory approval has been obtained, you failed to disclose the fact that any voting trust would require a public comment period and regulatory approval process, with approval based on the STB finding that such a trust is in the public interest. There is no precedent for a voting trust being approved under the new rules adopted in 2001, and there is no certainty that the STB would approve use of a voting trust.

Moreover, the structure you have proposed, under which Canadian Pacific would take control of the management and operations of Norfolk Southern, is unprecedented and has never been approved by the STB. As such, we do not believe that regulators would approve the voting trust structure. In any event, a voting trust structure would not address the uncertain value of the stock our shareholders would receive, as the ultimate value of the combined entity would be impacted in large part by concessions imposed as part of the regulatory review of a transaction.

Beyond not being in the best interests of our shareholders given the regulatory risks and the grossly inadequate value of your proposal, we also believe that the proposed transaction would be detrimental to Norfolk Southern’s customer base. We have heard significant concerns from customers regarding a transaction with Canadian Pacific. Further, if Canadian Pacific were to implement its short-term strategy, it would cause Norfolk Southern to lose substantial revenues from our service-sensitive customer base. We also believe the proposed transaction risks harm to vital transportation infrastructure and the communities we serve.

We have seen your public statements regarding a desire to meet. As you know, I was the one who suggested a meeting with you following the incorrect Canadian press reports that we had been discussing a transaction. When we met you suggested the possibility of a further meeting, while acknowledging that the discussion might not be confidential; subsequently, I agreed to a meeting if you and Bill Ackman, the Principal of Pershing Square, a Canadian Pacific board member, and a controlling shareholder, entered into a customary confidentiality agreement, which you refused to do. The fact is that not only did we already meet, but I also offered you several opportunities to provide additional information to our board for it to consider in reviewing the transaction you proposed – you did not provide additional information. In light of the grossly inadequate terms you proposed, and the regulatory risks to both the approval of the transaction and the ultimate value of a combined entity, we do not believe that there is any basis to meet.

Our board of directors and management team are committed to continuing to act in the best interests of Norfolk Southern and its shareholders. Norfolk Southern is executing on its strategic plan to implement operational improvements, which the board believes will enhance value for all shareholders. Our board does not believe that the transaction you proposed reflects the value inherent in Norfolk Southern and the benefits of our strategic plan. Accordingly, the board has unanimously rejected your proposed transaction.

Sincerely,

Jim Squires

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are acting as financial advisors to Norfolk Southern Corporation and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Hunton & Williams LLP and Morrison & Foerster LLP are acting as legal advisors.