Pershing Square Capital is waging a proxy battle to install seven nominees on Canadian Pacific’s 16-member board. Bill Ackman, Pershing Square Capital founder & CEO, offers insight.
Bill Ackman on Canadian Pacific $CP (Video)
that. let’s talk more now with our guest host, activis investor, william ackman. $11 billion now, right? i want to talk about trains in half a second, but what are you doing in london right now? there’s talk that you might be doing — we’re not allowed to talk about that in america. not allowed to talk about that in america. that’s right. rules here in america are crazy. that’s right. but you could talk about it in london. that’s right. could you talk about it with ross westgate? i don’t know who that is. the guy we just had on. thanks for listening. you were riveted by his — is ross the barnes & noble gu no. the guy we just asked if we liked bacon ice cream. oh, the london guy. how much do i w? i’m joe kernen. and she’s becky, right? let’s talk about the battle you’re having in canada in the train business. we have hunter coming on. he’s the nominee to run the company. walk through where you are in the proxy fight rye now and then you have a couple questions for you. sure. we’re in the end game. may 17th is a shareholder meeting. votes are coming in as we speak. independent group called brennen woods, shareholder survey, we have 94% support for management change. which is an enormous margin. i’ve never been involved in a roxy contest with this grade a lead, i would say. so explain this to me. last week, you came out and you said that the earnings were awful or a mess or worse than that, actually. and they’ve asked you to apologize. now i know what you’re talking about. no. i think you suggested that there was not a scam going on, but that the earnings — do you want to explain? sure. look, it’s fairly typical in a proxy contest. this is the last quarter they can announce before the shareholder meeting. we have a lot of people rooting for us and we have some pretty inside sources and we got a couple of calls that say, look, bill, there’s — they didn’t accrue as much as they did the you think the earnings are bogus? i would just put that as a side show. even if you take the earnings away, they’re still reported. the profitability of the company is worse than it was six years ago. the profit margin, the so-called operating of the business was worse. but on you calling bs, if you will, on these numbers, are you prepared to walk that back or do you think the numbers are real? unfortunately right now we’re in the middle of a proxy contest. i don’t know who to believe. let’s just stick with the reported numbers. by the way, if i got them wrong, i’m happy to admit i’m wrong. if the numbers are right, you will say you were wrong? sure. there are a number of reports where the company has asked you to apologize and — if i’m wrong, i’m delighted to apologize. unfortunately right now, the company realizes they’re losing so they want to create a side show out of a technicality. who do people want? do people want fred green to be ceo of the company going forward? the answer is no. hunter, by the way, is the most decorated ceo in the railroad industry. now, i don’t know how closely our viewers have followed this particular proxy contest. but this ceo that you were proposing, you almost reached a deal with these guys, meaning you almost reached a deal with the company on the other side. there’s a whole crazy story involved in this. crazy story. so the first meeting we had, we flew to canada. we sat down with the chairman. we had a meeting with the chairman, we had a meeting with fred green, one of my colleagues was there. paul is on our slate. brian welsh from pershing who authored a presentation about the last six years has underperformed for the company. we said, look, fred is not a bad guy. we think it’s time for a change. hunter harrison has agreed to come out of retirement. he’s a noncompete and — and they want hunter harrison. if you could nominate anybody but hunter harrison, they would take joe before they would take hunter harrison. they might. but i think what they don’t like is someone from the outside is in effect making a suggestion as opposed to this coming internally. i said, look, let us join the board. give us two seats. and like with jcpenney, we’ll work with the board on succession. we won’t have to go on cnbc. we’ll do it inside the board room. we’ll see who else is out there and we’ll put the guy in place. instead, they said, look, we want a fight in effect. they completely shut us out. they offered me one board seat and said i can’t offer my opinion. and he seems to be remarkably divisive. what is it about him as opposed to ksh. hunter is not divisive. you’ll meet him. you’ll form your own opinion. he’ll be on his best behavior. i’m not suggesting he’s divisive to me. but in this industry, for some reason with — yeah. is he going to come out here and say he loves that flame broiled chemical spray — by the way, don’t spread false, misleading stuff about my company. actually, andrew said he preferred the whooper over — hold on. if i could marry the whoper and the mcdonald’s fries, that would be for me — have you had the new burger king fries? most importantly, i have to get back to hunter. because i think he just denigrated the guy’s character. i was not denigrating the character. i was suggesting the guy — we’re all denigrating everything. by the way, you get a sense of how good the guy is if his former employer is trying to keep him from taking the job. and that’s not cnn. canadian national. no, by the way, the answer is the lawsuit is also a side show. okay. so the bottom line here is, the company needs management change. 94% shareholders support management change. 75% support hunter. we’ve got a lot more coming squawk continues when we return.