THE attempt by investor group Ancora Holdings to take control of US Class 1 freight railway Norfolk Southern (NS) ended in failure on May 9 when shareholders voted at their annual meeting to elect only three Ancora candidates to the NS board.

These preliminary results are subject to confirmation by an independent inspector.

Ancora had proposed eight new independent directors to take control of the board and appoint replacements for NS president and CEO, Mr Alan Shaw, and chief operating officer, Mr John Orr.

Launching its takeover bid in February, Ancora blamed the senior management team for the “failed strategy, insufficient accountability and lack of oversight of poor leadership” at NS, which it described as the worst-performing of the Class 1 railways.

The Ancora candidates now joining the 13-member NS board include Mr Gilbert Lamphere, chairman of MidRail Corporation and co-founder of MidSouth Rail Corporation.

Also elected are Mr Sameh Fahmy, former executive vice-president of Precision Scheduled Railroading at Kansas City Southern (KCS), and Mr William Clyburn Jr, a former commissioner and vice-chairman of the US Surface Transportation Board (STB).

Once their appointments have been finalised, they will each serve a one-year term.

“Our shareholders recognise that positive change is underway at Norfolk Southern,” NS said in a statement.

“Moving forward, we will continue building on the significant progress Alan Shaw, John Orr and the entire team have already achieved. Together, we are building a safer, more profitable railroad, closing the margin gap with our peers, and ultimately growing value for our shareholders.”

“We have the best team in the industry,” Shaw said. “I’m confident that we will have a strong and constructive relationship with our new directors. Our work is not done.”