Opinion: Predictions for 2002

OTTAWA -- The terrorist attacks and the recession turned many companies into zombies in the fall, according to an editorial in the Globe and Mail.

Ambitious strategic plans were either put on hold or cancelled, leaving corporate bosses to daydream only about empire building. With Osama on the run and signs that the worst of the recession may be already behind us, companies everywhere will make up for lost time this year.

Herewith my predictions for 2002, with special emphasis on transportation.

Transportation octopus: The octopus is Canadian National Railway, run by Paul Tellier, the CEO who shows no signs of fading even though 2002 marks his 10th year on the job.

In spite of two big acquisitions in the United States, there are still a few holes in his portfolio. He needs greater access to the U.S. West, New England and, eventually, Mexico, to complete his goal of becoming a trans-NAFTA transportation logistics company.

Watch CN make another acquisition this year. The big question is whether he could get permission to buy the newly independent Canadian Pacific. The chances are against CN, but a deal that sees it pick up only CP's eastern franchise might fly. In the next year, CP will have to decide whether it wants to be a buyer or a seller. The latter is more likely.