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Icahn revives growth plan; rail chief resigns

Keywords: Tags  Carl Icahn, rail car industry, American Railcar Industries, Icahn Enterprises, Greenbrier, Trinity Industries, FreightCar America, James Cowan Jeffrey Hollister

LOS ANGELES — A key executive in Carl C. Icahn’s railcar holdings has resigned as the billionaire investor reignites his effort to expand his holdings in the industry.

St. Charles, Mo.-based American Railcar Industries Inc. has named Jeffrey S. Hollister as president and interim chief executive officer in the wake of James Cowan’s resignation from the posts "to pursue other interests," the company said.

Cowan’s resignation came less than three weeks after the announcement of a planned restructuring in American Railcar’s ownership. Hollister joined American Railcar in 2005 and most recently headed its rail car manufacturing group.

Cowan, who was with American Railcar for nearly eight years, said in a statement that he is "proud of the company’s many achievements." No further details were disclosed regarding his plans.

American Railcar, a builder of hopper and tank cars, is considered one of the largest U.S. rail car manufacturers, along with Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Greenbrier Cos., Dallas-based Trinity Industries Inc. and Chicago-based FreightCar America Inc. The tank car market has benefited this year in particular from strong energy-related demand.

Icahn Enterprises LP last month said it was forming a joint venture, American Railcar Leasing LLC (ARL), that would look for "undervalued companies" in the industry.

The transaction will "result in a multibillion-dollar rail car segment at (Icahn Enterprises)," consisting of American Railcar Industries, a large rail car repair and fleet management business, and a combined lease fleet of roughly 32,500 rail cars, Icahn Enterprises said at the time.

The company described the rail car industry as "a strong growth business," noting that it has "high expectations for the entire segment." Icahn Enterprises said it will contribute to ARL cash and rail car assets with an aggregate value of about $737 million in exchange for its 75-percent ownership interest.

The new company could benefit from Icahn Enterprises’ "unparalleled experience in ‘activism’ and significant capital with access to debt capital at advantageous borrowing rates," it said at the time.

Late last year, Icahn failed in his effort to create the largest North American rail car builder when American Railcar was forced to throw in the towel on its $597-million bid to acquire control of Greenbrier. Icahn unloaded most of his Greenbrier stock after the company spurned American Railcar’s offer (, Dec. 28).

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