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Canadian Pacific attacks rival bid for Kansas City Southern

Last Updated Apr 21, 2021 at 11:57 am EDT

FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2004 file photo, the logo of Kansas City Southern is down on a restored 1954 Kansas City Southern passenger locomotive at Union Station in Kansas City, Mo. A bidding war is breaking out for Kansas City Southern, with Canadian National Railway making a $33.7 billion cash-and-stock offer for the railway. The bid trumps a $25 billion cash-and-stock proposal made by Canadian Pacific last month. Shares of Kansas City Southern jumped more than 18% in Tuesday, April 20, 2021 premarket trading.(Norman Ng/The Kansas City Star via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. — Canadian Pacific railroad continued its assault on rival Canadian National’s competing $33.7 billion bid to buy Kansas City Southern railroad Wednesday in a formal letter to regulators.

Canadian Pacific urged the Surface Transportation Board to closely examine Canadian National’s offer to buy Kansas City Southern because it says that deal would hurt rail competition throughout the central United States and it could destabilize the balance between the industry’s six largest players. Meanwhile, Canadian National maintains that the bid it announced Tuesday is superior to the $25 billion cash and stock deal that Canadian Pacific announced last month.

Canadian Pacific said competition would be hurt by the rival deal because Canadian National and Kansas City Southern both have rail lines that connect the Midwest with the Gulf Coast, so combining those two railroads would eliminate a competitor. Canadian Pacific’s network connects to Kansas City Southern in Kansas City, Missouri, but those two railroads don’t overlap elsewhere.

“Canadian Pacific respectfully suggests that the Board should see things the same way: the only combination involving KCS that is in the public interest is the one that Canadian Pacific has proposed, and which has already garnered support from over 400 shippers and other stakeholders,” Canadian Pacific’s attorney David Meyer wrote.

Canadian National has said its bid is better because it offers a stronger network to combine with Kansas City Southern and more cash for shareholders. CN said its offer is worth $325 per Kansas City Southern share. Kansas City Southern shareholders would receive $200 in cash and 1.059 shares of CN common stock for each share. In contrast, Canadian Pacific’s current offer values Kansas City Southern at $275 per share, which includes $90 cash and 0.489 shares of CP stock.

“Together, CN and KCS would offer multiple interchanges and create greater choice and service options for customers of both companies. Customers will benefit from a faster, more direct and more efficient network of end-to-end single-line services from Mexico to the United States to Canada,” Canadian National said Wednesday.

Canadian National launched a website touting the benefits of its offer. Canadian Pacific created a similar site last month.

Kansas City Southern has said its board will review both proposals and respond later. Previously, KCS’s board unanimously endorsed Canadian Pacific’s bid.

The Surface Transportation Board hasn’t approved any major railroad mergers since the 1990s, and it has generally said that any deal involving one of the nation’s six largest railroads needs to enhance competition and serve the public interest to get approved.

For more than two decades, the railroad industry has been stable with two railroads in the western United States — BNSF and Union Pacific — two in the eastern United States — CSX and Norfolk Southern — and the two Canadian railroads that serve part of the United States.

“Completion of a CN acquisition of KCS would create tremendous strategic pressure for CP to find a way to expand its market reach through further consolidation,” Meyer said to regulators.

Josh Funk, The Associated Press