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Union Pacific’s Walsh Going to Tenneco

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Michael H. Walsh, chairman of Union Pacific Railroad Co., resigned Wednesday to become president of Tenneco Inc. on Oct. 1.

Walsh, 49, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, was also named chief executive of the Houston-based diversified concern, effective Jan. 1. Additionally, Tenneco said Walsh will become chairman in May upon the retirement of James L. Ketelson, 60, who has been Tenneco chairman since 1978.

Union Pacific said Richard K. Davidson, the railroad’s executive vice president of operations, would succeed Walsh as president and chief executive. Andrew Lewis, chairman and chief executive of Union Pacific Corp., the railroad’s Bethlehem, Pa.-based parent, will take the additional post of chairman of railroad.

After the announcement of Walsh’s appointment, Tenneco’s stock jumped $3.25 in New York Stock Exchange trading on heavy volume of 4 million shares to close at $39.875. The stock, which reached a high of $71 just over a year ago, has traded as low as $33.375 in recent weeks.

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While Tenneco stock has been taking a beating, five of Tenneco’s businesses “are actually being run pretty well,” said David Fleischer, an analyst with Prudential Bache Securities in New York. “Only J. I. Case (a farm and construction equipment operation), which represents about a third of Tenneco’s assets, is losing money.”

Case “has significant, unresolved operational problems,” Fleischer said. “What Walsh brings to the party is a fresh outlook. . . . He’s likely to make different asset allocations at Tenneco.”

Walsh is known as a hard-charging executive credited with improving Union Pacific’s communications, efficiency, quality and profits during a turbulent period after deregulation. A graduate of Yale University Law School, he was special assistant to former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman and had been a senior executive with Cummins Engine Co. before joining the railroad in 1986.


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