Turmoil at CSX: Hunter Harrison's Medical Leave
In December 2017, two news releases were issued by CSX Corporation (CSX) concerning its chief executive officer (CEO), who had been appointed nine months earlier based on his record of drastically cutting operating expenses. The first release indicated that the CEO had taken a medical leave of absence due to unexpected complications from a recent illness and that an acting CEO had been appointed. The next day, CSX shares dropped 7.6 per cent, erasing almost $4 billion in market value. The second release, two days later, indicated that the CEO had died. Subsequent news reports questioned the board's initial decision to hire him. The events raised issues related to unlocking shareholder value, the role of boards, and the impact of activist shareholders. Did the board do sufficient due diligence surrounding the CEO's health when he was initially hired? Was the CEO's vision and strategy more important than its implementation? Was the hiring of this CEO short-term thinking?