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Rail News: Mechanical

Greenbrier names Whiteley chairman, aims to renew Furman's president/CEO contract


Today, The Greenbrier Cos. announced Benjamin Whiteley has been elected chairman to succeed Alan James, whose 10-year employment agreement as chairman expired Aug. 31. James — who in July filed a lawsuit to stop Greenbrier from adopting a "poison pill" to prevent hostile takeovers — will continue to serve as a board member.

A Greenbrier board member since 1994, Whiteley chairs the audit committee, and is a member of the compensation, and nominating and corporate governance committees. He retired from Standard Insurance Co. — now StanCorp Financial Group — as chief executive officer in 1994 and as chairman in 1998. Currently chairman of the non-profit Oregon Community Foundation, Whiteley previously served on the boards of U.S. Bancorp, Willamette Industries and Northwest Natural Gas.

"The board believes that having an independent chairman reflects corporate governance that is most desirable in corporate America," Greenbrier board members said in a prepared statement. "Mr. Whiteley has substantial public company experience as a CEO, director and chairman."

Board members also elected Donald Washburn to the compensation, and nominating and corporate governance committees, and authorized the compensation committee to negotiate an agreement to renew William Furman's contract as president and CEO. During Furman's more than 10-year tenure, Greenbrier has grown from a small rail-car leasing company to a publicly held firm earning annual revenue of about $700 million.

Greenbrier builds rail cars in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and repairs and refurbishes cars and wheels at 13 North American facilities. The company also owns about 11,000 cars and produces rail castings through an unconsolidated joint venture.

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More News from 10/6/2004