02/21/2017 07:50 EST | Updated 02/22/2018 00:12 EST

Top 2 CSX execs retiring in spring as CEO discussions with Hunter Harrison continue

OMAHA, Neb. — The top two CSX executives plan to retire this spring as the railroad is in discussions with a hedge fund that wants to install Hunter Harrison, the executive who led Canadian Pacific's turnaround.

CSX said Tuesday that its Chairman and CEO Michael Ward and President Clarence Gooden will both retire at the end of May. Previously, Ward had planned to work through 2019 before retiring.

CSX said it has promoted Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson to president.

The railroad said Eliasson's appointment isn't meant to pre-empt discussions with Paul Hilal's Mantle Ridge hedge fund about Harrison becoming CSX's next CEO.

But CSX has called for a special shareholder meeting this spring, so investors can weigh in on the demands the hedge fund is making.