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Questions emerge about health of new CEO at CSX

FILE - In this Thursday, May 14, 2015, file photo, then-Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison speaks at the company's annual meeting in Calgary, Alberta. The Wall Street Journal reports that Harrison, the new CEO of CSX railroad, is facing questions about his health ahead of next month's shareholder vote on his compensation. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Questions about the health of the CEO hired by CSX railroad this spring are being raised ahead of next month’s shareholder vote on his compensation.

The Wall Street Journal reports (http://on.wsj.com/2qB5xQG ) 72-year-old Hunter Harrison often works from home and occasionally uses oxygen because of an undisclosed health issue

Harrison told the newspaper doctors cleared him to work, and he believes he can lead the turnaround he began in March at CSX.

“I’m having a ball and I’m running on so much adrenaline that no one can stop me,” Harrison told the Journal. “Don’t judge me by my medical record, judge me by my performance.”

While leading Canadian Pacific railroad, Harrison took an extended leave in 2015 after leg surgery and pneumonia. He often worked from his home near West Palm Beach, Florida, during his last two years as CP’s CEO.

CSX Executive Vice President Frank Lonegro said Harrison remains fully engaged. Lonegro spoke Thursday at a Bank of America Merril Lynch conference, and he said using oxygen hasn’t slowed Harrison.

“I’ve gotten a dose of leadership from him while he had supplemental oxygen. I’ve had a dose of leadership from him when he hasn’t had supplemental oxygen and they were equally as blunt and equally as effective,” Lonegro said. “So, no question about who’s in charge and no question about how engaged he is.”

CSX shareholders will vote early next month on whether the Jacksonville, Florida, railroad should pay the $84 million in compensation Harrison forfeited when he left Canadian Pacific railroad earlier than planned. Harrison has said he will resign if the compensation isn’t approved.

Harrison was hired in March after the Mantle Ridge hedge fund pressured the railroad to make changes. Harrison has a track record of reducing costs and boosting profits through the scheduled operating model he developed at CP and Canadian National.

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