November 17, 2005 13:59 ET

CN celebrates 10th anniversary of privatization and IPO; decade saw remarkable business transformation of railway

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 17, 2005) - CN today marks the 10th anniversary of its privatization and initial public share offering (IPO).

"Ten years ago today CN embarked on a new journey as a fully privatized and publicly traded company," said E. Hunter Harrison, president and chief executive of CN. "In the decade since privatization, we have transformed CN, a former Crown corporation, into a leading North American enterprise and the most efficient railway on the continent. This is a remarkable business story. And it is testament to the vision of the architects of CN's privatization and the strength of CN's leadership."

To mark the IPO's anniversary, Harrison will ring the bell to close trading today at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). On Nov. 17, 1995, CN shares began trading on the NYSE under the symbol CNI, and on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol of CNR.

CN had a bold vision at the time of privatization - to become the best railroad in North America. To achieve that goal, CN fixed its cost structure and improved service levels, positioning the company for continued, profitable and sustainable revenue growth.

"Our improving financial performance gave CN the resources to expand its North American footprint," Harrison said. "In 1998 CN announced a plan to buy Illinois Central Railroad and struck a marketing alliance with Kansas City Southern Railway. We followed these initiatives in 2001 with the acquisition of Wisconsin Central, and the 2004 purchases of BC Rail and the railroads and related assets of Great Lakes Transportation LLC.

"Our implementation of the scheduled railroad in 1998 was another key milestone event in CN's evolution. Scheduled railroading - or precision railroading as we now know it -- gave us the tools to improve service still further and to vastly improve the productivity of our assets and our people.

"Today CN has a strong franchise reaching the three coasts of North America, a superior business model, and a top team of disciplined railroaders who execute the business plan day in, day out. Together these elements have generated industry-leading financial results and significant growth in shareholder value."

Since CN's IPO in 1995, the value of CN's shares on the NYSE has increased by more than 1,000 per cent - and by approximately 900 per cent on the TSX. This track record of share appreciation far exceeds the performance of the broader market and the other railroads. CN's market capitalization today stands at approximately US$20 billion, second largest among North America's seven major railroads.

CN's efficiency is reflected in its operating ratio - the percentage of revenues required to operate and maintain the railroad. In 1995, CN's operating ratio trailed far behind the industry average. Since then the company has steadily improved this measure of efficiency - for the first nine months of 2005 CN posted an industry-leading operating ratio of 64.4 per cent.

"Our transformation story is far from over," said Harrison. "Later today and tomorrow at our 2005 Investors' Conference here, we will unveil CN's 2010 Vision, our plan to keep our company at the forefront of rail industry performance and to generate still greater value for our customers and shareholders."

CN will webcast the initial session of its 2005 Investors' Conference today, starting at 5.15 p.m. Eastern time (ET), with a presentation by its president and chief executive officer. The webcast and slides supporting the presentation will be available on the Investors' section of CN's website, The slides will be posted on the website at 4.30 p.m. ET Nov. 17. Please click on Analyst Presentations at that time. Slides for presentations on Nov. 18 will be posted on the website at 7.30 a.m. tomorrow.

The webcasts and supporting slide presentations will be archived on CN's website until Dec. 2, 2005.


Nov.17, 1995 - The Canadian government privatizes CN, launching initial public share offering of the company's shares. The shares begin to trade on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.

Nov. 28, 1995 - The Canadian government completes the CN IPO, raising C$2.16 billion in then the largest IPO in Canadian history.

Feb. 10, 1998 - CN announces a plan to acquire Illinois Central Railroad (IC), extending its reach south of Chicago through Memphis to New Orleans, and west of Chicago to Omaha, Neb., and Sioux City, Iowa.

April 16, 1998 - CN, IC and Kansas City Southern Railway sign a 15-year marketing alliance to link key North American markets.

March 26, 1998 - E. Hunter Harrison joins CN as executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

September 1998 - Harrison implements scheduled railroading on CN, significantly reducing transit times and improving on-time delivery of carload freight. The new operating plan positions CN for growth.

July 1, 1999 - CN takes control of IC and commences the step-by-step integration of the railroads.

Jan. 30, 2001 - CN announces an agreement to acquire Wisconsin Central Transportation Corp. (WC). The transaction gives CN ownership of key rail line between Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Chicago to accommodate rising NAFTA traffic.

Oct. 9, 2001 - CN completes the acquisition of WC and commences integration of the property.

Jan. 1, 2003 – E. Hunter Harrison becomes CN's president and chief executive officer.

Oct. 20, 2003 - CN reaches agreement to acquire the railroads and related holdings of Great Lakes Transportation LLC (GLT). CN acquires two railroads, a switching company, and a fleet of Great Lakes vessels. The acquisition gives CN control of a small but strategic section of track in the Duluth/Superior area for NAFTA traffic.

Nov. 25, 2003 - CN and the British Columbia government announce an agreement for CN to acquire the rail operating assets of BC Rail.

May 10, 2004 - CN closes the GLT transaction, starts integration.

July 14, 2004 - CN closes the BC Rail transaction, starts integration.

April 29, 2005 - CN, Maher Terminals of Canada Corporation and the Prince Rupert Port Authority announce plans to launch a major new container terminal in 2007 on Canada's west coast.

Nov. 17, 2005 - CN celebrates the 10th anniversary of privatization and IPO.

This news release contains forward-looking statements. CN cautions that, by their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainties and that its results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Reference should be made to CN's most recent Form 40-F filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, Annual Information Form filed with the Canadian securities regulators, its 2004 Annual and 2005 Quarterly Financial Statements and Management Discussion and Analysis, for a summary of major risks.

Canadian National Railway Company spans Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to the Gulf of Mexico, serving the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the key cities of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Memphis, St. Louis, and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America.

Contact Information

  • CN
    Mark Hallman (Media)
    System Director, Media Relations
    (905) 669-3384
    Robert Noorigian (Investment Community)
    Vice-President, Investor Relations
    (514) 399-0052