By Dean Seal

An investor group led by Ancora Holdings has put forward nominations for a new board at Norfolk Southern, heating up a proxy fight aimed at ousting the railroad's chief executive.

The activist group on Tuesday nominated eight independent candidates, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sameh Fahmy, a former executive at railroad Kansas City Southern.

Ancora and the other investors are pushing for Jim Barber Jr., another of their board nominees, to be installed as chief executive. Barber most recently served as the chief operating officer and president of United Parcel Service.

The activists have also identified Jamie Boychuk, a former executive vice president of operations at CSX, as their pick to take over as Norfolk Southern's chief operating officer.

The Ancora-led group has built a roughly $1 billion stake in the company and is railing against the leadership of CEO Alan Shaw.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the investor group had met with Norfolk Southern in the preceding weeks and taken issue with what they see as Shaw's failure to hit operating targets. Norfolk Southern's stock has fallen by about one-quarter from a high two years ago as revenue and profit decline.

The group said Tuesday that it has privately conveyed to Norfolk Southern that Shaw is a "30-year insider with a poor record of driving growth," rendering him unfit for the CEO role, and that it has even met with Shaw himself.

"While all this was going on, however, Norfolk Southern was sending its private jet to Washington, D.C., so executives could pursue the support of regulators and the Company started requesting public support from customers as part of its planned fight against us," the group said in a statement.

Norfolk Southern didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Write to Dean Seal at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-20-24 0944ET