UPDATE 3-CP Rail CEO says unlikely to pursue hostile bid for CSX

Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:22pm EDT
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(Recasts with comments from CP CEO Harrison)

By Allison Martell

TORONTO Oct 21 (Reuters) - Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd is still open to a merger with one of the two bigger eastern U.S. carriers even after talks with CSX Corp failed, though a hostile bid is unlikely, Chief Executive Hunter Harrison said on Thursday.

CP, Canada's No.2 railway with extensive operations in the U.S., said on Monday it ended merger talks with CSX. Harrison says creating a new transcontinental railroad could improve congestion around Chicago, where east- and west-based railways meet and hand off cargo, a process that can take days.

"We had some fascinating conversations about the potential, but it became evident that we saw the world a little differently, which is fine," Harrison, 69, told a conference call on Tuesday after CP reported higher third-quarter earnings and revenue that fell short of analysts' expectations.

Any deal between CP and CSX, the No. 3 U.S. railway, would likely have faced tough regulatory barriers and alarmed customers. Norfolk Southern Corp is the other of the two bigger U.S. railways based east of Chicago.

Asked if any combination would need to be friendly, Harrison said: "I've learned never say never, but I can't contemplate any kind of hostile activity."

Without mentioning Norfolk Southern by name, Harrison said CP had looked at the two eastern carriers and one had come out slightly ahead. He said CP is not currently focusing on another deal, though if something comes up he would look at it.

Harrison said a deal with one of the western "big boys" was less likely. Berkshire Hathaway Inc's Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Corp have the biggest networks in the western United States. He also said Kansas City Southern, the smallest of the major railways, is "very expensive."   Continued...