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Bill Ackman, head of the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, has big plans to turnaround struggling rail operator CP Rail (CP-T). As part of those plans he's kicked off a proxy battle to replace the board at the company's annual meeting in May, which he says has failed for years to improve CP Rail's lagging operating metrics.
One of the board members Ackman has nominated is Rebecca MacDonald, Executive Chair at Just Energy (JE-T). MacDonald says her decision to take Ackman up on his offer comes from her belief that what he's doing is a good for CP.
"I am not a big proponent of somebody taking a stake in the company and then tearing it apart and not creating long-term value," she says. "I was satisfied that is not what [Ackman] wants to do -- he really just wants to improve the performance of CP that, unfortunately, has very bad metrics."
She says she had never "heard of Pershing Square", but believes that as a Canadian it is important "to have an independent Canadian on that slate [of new board members]."
And MacDonald says that since she took up Ackman's offer she has received "calls from different shareholders…and they're very supportive. They like someone finally taking a stand and asking about performance."
"I believe the company should be asking questions of their management, whether they are doing the right job or not. I believe every once in a while you have to shake up the board."