Shares of CSX (NYSE:CSX) tumbled Friday following the railroad company's announcement that its CEO will take a medical leave.
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"Chief Executive Officer and President, E. Hunter Harrison, is on medical leave due to unexpected complications from a recent illness. Therefore, the Board of Directors has named COO James M. Foote as acting CEO of the Company" the company said in a statement.
Foote also commented in the same statement, assuring investors he is up to speed. “Hunter is a good friend and has been a colleague of mine for many years. He is an icon in the industry and we pray for his speedy recovery. I have been following the CSX story very closely since January, but did not realize just how much progress Hunter and CSX’s able team have made replicating the transformation we effected at Canadian National some years ago......Because the team has implemented a foundation consistent with Hunter’s vision, I do not see any reason to diminish our expectations concerning the pace and magnitude of our future progress.”
Harrison, who's led turnarounds at three other railroads, was hired in March after the Mantle Ridge hedge fund pressured CSX to make changes. But questions have emerged about his health.
In May The Wall Street Journal reported that Harrison often works from home and occasionally uses oxygen because of an undisclosed health issue. Harrison then told the newspaper that doctors had cleared him to work.
Shares of CSX have gained 59% this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.