Claude Mongeau to step down as CN Rail CEO

Luc Jobin, 57, will take over at Canadian National Railway on July 1

MONTREAL — Canadian National Railway will have its third leader in more than six years after the CEO of the country’s largest railway said Tuesday he’s stepping down because a medical condition makes it difficult to continue in the job.

Claude Mongeau returned to work in January after a five-month medical leave for treatment of a tumour in his larynx.

Luc Jobin, CN’s chief financial officer — who was among members of the leadership team that filled in for Mongeau during his absence — will take over the top job as of July 1.

“Facing up to a situation like this inevitably stirs a lot of emotions, but I step down from my role with a deep sense of pride and the firm conviction that CN remains in good hands and has a bright future,” Mongeau, 54, said in a statement.

He has been CN’s chief executive since Hunter Harrison, now the current head of CP Rail, retired from the railway at the end of 2009.

Prior to that, Mongeau was CN’s chief financial officer for 11 years and has been with the Montreal-based railway for 22 years. He has been described as one of the key architect’s of CN’s transformation from a federal Crown corporation to a publicly traded company.

As CEO, he oversaw the railway’s dramatic growth as profits nearly doubled and revenues surged 71 per cent to $7.4 billion.

Jobin, 57, has been CN’s chief financial officer since joining the company in 2009. Prior to that, he had been a senior executive at the related companies Imasco, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, and at Power Corporation.

“Luc (Jobin) and the senior leadership team are well-prepared to carry on delivering CN’s agenda of operational and service excellence,” said CN chairman Robert Pace.

Jobin is taking over as the railway industry faces volume decreases amid a challenging economic backdrop across North America.

Still, industry analysts said CN Rail’s “solid management team” should result in a seamless transition.

“Mr. Mongeau certainly made his mark at CN, in no small part by bringing a new way of thinking to CN Rail’s railroading (especially with regards to service and the customer),” Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets wrote in a research note.

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