Calgary Alberta - Hunter Harrison is leaving Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (CP) at the end of January, earlier than his planned July retirement date.
His second-in-command, Keith Creel, will become chief executive officer, Calgary-based CP said after markets closed on Wednesday.
"Leaving CP is bittersweet," said Mr. Harrison, CEO since 2012, said in a statement.
"I have had a wonderful experience and depart with many friends and with full confidence in Keith's ability to build on the great success we have enjoyed."
CP said, "Under the terms of the separation agreement, CP has agreed to a limited waiver of Mr. Harrison's non-competition obligations. In consideration of the waiver Mr. Harrison has agreed to terminate all roles he has with CP and forfeit substantially all benefits and perquisites he is entitled to receive from CP going forward, including his pension."
Mr. Harrison came out of retirement at the behest of U.S. hedge fund Pershing Square that waged a proxy fight with the board for control of the under performing CP, which is the smaller of Canada's two big railways.
He had previously been CEO of Canadian National Railway Company (CN).
Mr. Harrison had been credited with turning around CN and a U.S. railway and set about doing the same at CP.
He parked hundreds of locomotives and rail cars, laid off workers, and improved the company's efficiencies.
The share price, meanwhile, tripled.
He also led two failed attempts to merge with U.S. rivals, CSX Corporation (CSX) and Norfolk Southern Corporation (NS).
The news of his retirement came as the company posted fourth-quarter results.
Fourth-quarter revenue fell by 3 percent to $1.64 billion from $1.69 billion and adjusted earnings per-share rose 12 percent to $3.04, the company said.
Analysts had been expecting a profit of $3.12 a share (a 15 percent rise) and revenue of $1.65 billion.
For both major Canadian railways, the number of carloads hauled on their U.S. and domestic networks fell by almost 5 percent, led by declines in petroleum (down 16 percent), non-metallic minerals (down 11 percent), and coal (down 11 percent).
However, CP and CN fared better than their U.S. peers, which posted average carload declines of 8 percent on their U.S. tracks.
On Tuesday, Florida's CSX became the first rail company to post fourth-quarter results, disappointing investors with a one cent profit miss.
CSX said quarterly profit fell by 2 percent while revenue rose by 9 percent, sending its share price down by 5 percent over the past two days.
In a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, company executives said it would reduce capital expenditures by US$500 million amid weak pricing power due to soft demand for freight transport.
OKthepK Joint Bar Editor: Article abridged, stock price analyst's remarks removed.