WISCONSIN CENTRAL SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE CN TAKEOVER
Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp. shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve a $800-million takeover offer by Canadian National Railway Co.
CN's offer of $17.15 a share cash, plus assuming $400 million in Wisconsin Central debt, was approved by 99 percent of the stockholders.
Wisconsin Central said the merger, which is subject to U.S. Surface Transportation Board approval, should be completed by fall, provided the STB views it as a “minor rather than a major rail merger.”
The vote came one day before the STB held oral hearings in Washington about planned merger rules. The board's 15-month moratorium on big rail mergers is scheduled to end this summer. The board's action caused CN to pull a proposed merger with Burlington Northern Santa Fe off the table.
Rosemont, Ill.-based Wisconsin Central is CN's largest customer and has been hauling CN freight between Superior and Chicago under a 1998 agreement.
CN, which acquired Illinois Central two years ago, said it will sell off Wisconsin Central's overseas rail properties. Those include a 42-percent stake in English, Welsh and Scottish Railways and a 24-percent stake in Trans Rail Holdings, a New Zealand rail operator.