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Jul 31, 2018

Aecon CEO says ‘big acquisition’ a possibility down the road

Aecon shows healthy backlog despite Ottawa blocking CCCI acquisition

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Two months after the federal government blocked the sale of his construction company to a Chinese firm, the president and CEO of Aecon Group says it may seek a major acquisition of its own.

“There may be a big acquisition at some point down the road – always a possibility, has been and therefore will be,” John Beck told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday, noting it would have to be a deal that would allow the company to grow outside of Canada.

“We’ve always grown, we’ve always done acquisitions if you look at our history – and some of them have been very significant,” Beck said. 

Ottawa killed a proposed $1.5-billion takeover of Aecon by state-owned China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC) in late May, citing national security concerns.

But Aecon hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, given its backlog of new projects. At the end of its second quarter, Aecon recorded a record-high work backlog of $6.4 billion, which the company said was $2 billion higher than at the end of the same quarter the previous year.

The company also said it booked $2.6 billion in new contracts during the quarter ended June 30, compared to $687 million for the second quarter of 2017.

“First and foremost we execute on the work we already have,” Beck said, when asked about the company’s future growth plans. “We have significant higher volume ahead of us. Second, we will continue to look at opportunities to grow not only in Canada but on a very selective basis internationally.”

Aecon will undergo a leadership transition in the fall, with Jean-Louis Servranckx becoming its new chief executive in early September.

Beck will assume his previous role as executive chair of the board.

With files from the Canadian Press