CNF considering name change

San Mateo, CA-based transportation conglomerate CNF Inc. is proposing to shareholders a name change to Con-Way Inc. and to adopt CNW as the new ticker symbol for the company’s publicly traded stock.

“CNF traces its origins to the old Consolidated Freightways organization,” said Douglas Stotlar, CNF president & CEO. “But over the past 20 years, the company has evolved and the Con-Way name has emerged as a powerful, respected brand in its own right, known for service excellence and superior shareholder value. It portrays with more clarity of who we are today, and what we will be in the future.”

Ann Arbor, MI-based LTL carrier group Con-Way Transportation Services is a subsidiary of CNF and arguably its most profitable operation. Its operating income surged 34% in 2005 to $331.1 million on 11.2% higher revenues of $2.82 billion, which comprises over half of parent CNF’s overall revenue in 2005 compared to 2004. Those numbers helped CNF post profits of $215.3 million in 2005, compared to a loss of $266.3 million in 2004.

Although not mentioned in CNF’s news release, the move is perhaps CNF’s attempt to distance itself from the fate of its one-time namesake, LTL carrier Consolidated Freightways. At one time the third largest LTL in the U.S., it went bankrupt in September 2002 and eventually liquidated its assets.

Stotlar said CNF’s shareholders are going to vote on the name change proposal at the company’s annual meeting, scheduled for April 18th. He added that the new corporate name and stock symbol mark the launch of an integrated strategy to bring CNF’s operations under a single master brand. The first stage, should shareholder’s approve, would be a phased “re-branding” of CNF as Con-Way.

“While there will be no change to the business model of the Con-Way regional carriers and other Con-way subsidiaries, building signage, employee uniforms, vehicle colors and markings, sales and marketing materials and other visual cues will be converted to the common logo, color and branding schema,” Stotlar said.

He added that CNF is also considering converting Menlo Worldwide Logistics to the new Con-Way brand and said research is underway to identify the necessary steps to implement adoption of a common brand in the countries and global markets where Menlo does business.

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