By Justin Franz
MONTREAL — Canadian National CEO JJ Ruest will retire in January 2022, the railroad announced Tuesday. Although the railroad said Ruest had been planning on retiring, the news comes as shareholders push for change at the Class I following its failed bid to merge with Kansas City Southern.
The railroad said its board had appointed a CEO search committee to find a new leader and make a recommendation to the full board.
“I have been honored to lead CN during my time as chief executive officer, and I am confident that the Company is well-positioned to continue to thrive following my retirement,” Ruest said in a statement. “The strength of the Company’s management team and Board allow me to announce my planned retirement knowing that the Company we have built will continue to prosper.”
Ruest has been with CN for 25 years and has served as its CEO since 2018. Robert Pace, chair of the CN board, said that Ruest had planned on retiring previously but agreed to stay on to see CN through its proposed merger with KCS. That bid ultimately failed. Because of that, one of the railroad’s largest shareholders, TCI Fund Management, has been calling for Ruest to step down and for new board members to be appointed. CN has dismissed the calls for change. However, CN will hold a shareholder meeting in March where TCI will make its case.