CN bids on railroad, fleet

Minnesota State Roundup

Published January 1, 2004  | January 2004 issue

CN, the former Canadian National Railway Co., is making a bid to purchase Great Lakes Transportation LLC for $380 million.

The deal would give CN the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Railway Co., a major iron ore hauler. CN would also own Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet Inc., which operates eight ships on the Great Lakes. Federal regulations would forbid CN, as a foreign company, from directly running maritime operations in the United States, so it plans to partner with a Pennsylvania firm to manage its ships.

CN exacerbated fears that consolidation would eliminate jobs when it announced plans to lay off as many as 94 of the roughly 500 people working at DM&IR. Company representatives said those laid off would be eligible for employment elsewhere in its network. Great Lakes Fleet will likely maintain its staff of around 200 people.

On Dec. 2 the federal Surface Transportation Board labeled the deal a "minor transaction," which would expedite the review process. Tentatively, that process includes a public hearing in early March and a final decision in mid-April.

Joe Mahon