Glass Lewis endorses 6 of activist Ancora’s nominees for Norfolk Southern board

A Norfolk Southern prepare is en route on Feb. 14, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio. Earlier in the month a derailment sent hundreds and hundreds of kilos of poisonous chemicals into the ambiance and compelled hundreds of of us to evacuate.

Angelo Merendino | Getty Photographs Information | Getty Photographs

Activist investor Ancora bought a extremely efficient endorsement in its efforts to stable a board substitute and to oust Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw on Monday, when proxy advisory Glass Lewis instructed the railroad’s shareholders vote for 6 of Ancora’s board nominees.

“We deem Ancora has presented a compelling case for supporting a immense overhaul of the Firm’s present leadership,” Glass Lewis said in its characterize.

The suggestions for the activist nominees, rare at a company of NSC’s size and in its industry, might possibly have an effect on how hundreds of buyers with hundreds and hundreds of shares vote earlier than Norfolk Southern’s shareholder meeting on Could presumably well merely 9.

The proxy advisory instructed that shareholders vote in reinforce of Ancora nominees Betsy Akins, Jim Barber, William Clyburn, Sameh Fahmy, Gilbert Lamphere and Allison Landry.

Tremendously, the proxy advisory moreover instructed that shareholders withhold their reinforce from present CEO Shaw and board chair Amy Miles.

Moreover, Glass Lewis said Barber, Ancora’s pick for CEO, and Jamie Boychuk, the activist’s pick for chief working officer, “accept as true with compelling credentials and display screen files.”

Ancora is searching for to oust Shaw in prefer of historic UPS executive Barber, who began his 35-year career in the eighties as a Teamster-represented offer driver and ended it as COO of 1 in all the sphere’s biggest logistics corporations. He lacks notify expertise as a railroad executive but renowned that UPS became once one among the largest rail customers worldwide in a CNBC interview earlier this month.

Ancora moreover seeks to set up historic CSX executive Boychuk as Barber’s COO. Boychuk spent twenty years at Canadian Nationwide earlier than becoming a member of CSX. Take care of Barber, Boychuk began his career as a union-represented conductor and rose thru the ranks at CN and CSX, where he became once executive vp for operations till 2023.

Norfolk Southern said in an announcement Monday that it “strongly” disagreed with Glass Lewis’ “faulty” advice.

“We are assured that Norfolk Southern shareholders are extremely suggested and acutely conscious that replacing six directors, along with our crisis-examined CEO, Alan Shaw, with Ancora’s circulate candidates would build the corporate necessary to our nation’s economy at indispensable probability, hinder our growth, and abolish long-time frame label for shareholders,” the corporate said.

On Friday, two Teamsters unions, representing around half of of Norfolk Southern’s unionized personnel, said they would reinforce Ancora’s conception for substitute. Their reinforce, coupled with Glass Lewis’ endorsement, offers the activist extremely efficient ammunition as it seeks to persuade shareholders.

“We are moreover inclined to trust Ancora’s critique of the Firm’s present working strategy as being one that relies on inherently incompatible railroading ideas,” the proxy advisory said in its characterize.

NSC had first and foremost shied far from pursuing a precision scheduled railroading, or PSR, primarily based completely arrive in prefer of a so-called “resiliency” mannequin. Ancora, on the opposite hand, had argued from with reference to the outset that Norfolk Southern’s customers, workers and buyers would be handiest served with a PSR-rooted working conception.

PSR specializes in making definite trains and crews protect transferring to lower wasted hours and equipment, by working on a mounted time desk like passenger trains moderately than rolling trains handiest after they’re stuffed with cargo. Merchants tend to reward corporations that adopt PSR and might possibly perchance moreover simply display screen its implementation by strategy of a railroad’s working ratio, which is working costs as a percentage of income.

A resiliency mannequin, in distinction, maintains a strategic reserve of trains and vehicles for the length of downturns in demand of, which happen generally in rail.

The company has since changed its tune, appointing gentle railway executive John Orr to implement an working conception comibining every PSR and resiliency approaches. Both the activist and some analysts accept as true with criticized the conception.

Proxy advisory reinforce is historically key for activists

A overall are waiting for of the exterior of the headquarters of Norfolk Southern on April 1, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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A success reinforce from proxy advisors is a top priority for every activists and administration. It’s atypical for activists to receive the diploma of reinforce that Ancora did at a company this sizable, but no longer unparalleled.

ISS backed Pershing Sq. Bill Ackman’s seven director nominees on the usual Canadian Pacific in 2017. At CP, nevertheless, Ackman had enlisted railroading legend E. Hunter Harrison as his CEO pick.

But reinforce from proxy advisors does no longer guarantee a slam dunk. Nelson Peltz’s 2017 marketing campaign at Procter & Gamble obtained the endorsement of every ISS and Glass Lewis, one other influential proxy consultant, but soundless ended up being razor shut.

A settlement looks no longer likely, but no longer not doubtless. NSC CEO Shaw has previously told CNBC that the corporate supplied “a pair” board seats to the activist but became once rebuffed. Ancora has generally made determined that it holds Shaw accountable for Norfolk Southern’s underperformance and what it describes as mismanagement across the East Palestine, Ohio derailment.

The activist has previously said that any deal would require Shaw to step out as CEO.

NSC and Ancora will proceed to make their case to buyers sizable and shrimp with runt extra than a week earlier than the Could presumably well merely 9 shareholder meeting. ISS, one other influential proxy advisory firm, is anticipated to inform its advice this week.

WATCH: Activist Ancora makes its case for a brand new Norfolk Southern CEO and administration

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