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Bill Gates ups CN Rail stake to almost 14%

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Bill Gates has increased his overall investment in Canadian National Railway Co. (CNR.TO) to 13.83 percent.

The world’s richest man and Microsoft founder purchased 1,077,175 shares in Canada’s largest railway between July 31 and Aug. 6 through his Kirkland, Washington investment company Cascade Investment LLC. Separately, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which he also controls, owns 2.14 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, for a combined value of roughly $8.8-billion.

Individual CN shareholders are capped at 15 percent ownership. Gates has been building his position in the railway since 2006.

Meanwhile, CN CEO Claude Mongeau announced he will be absent from the company for three-months to treat a precancerous tumor in his larynx. Mongeau, 53, says he will stay on as CEO and president. Executive vice-president Luc Job will lead the company in his absence.

Weaker crude-by-rail and grain volumes weighted on CN’s second quarter results in July. The Montreal-based railway announced plans to improve system-wide efficiency. CN laid off 600 workers in the second quarter to pare down labour costs. It also sidelined some of its older locomotives, and ran other trains at faster speeds.

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