MONTREAL -- Neil Bruce, who stepped down abruptly as head of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. on Tuesday, says the process to replace him was in the works for at least six months.
Bruce says in a LinkedIn post that the process started last year and notes that his interim replacement, Ian Edwards, was appointed operations chief in January, allowing a five-month handover period to groom the industry veteran.
Bruce says his family moved backed to the United Kingdom after the winter holidays and that he was eager to join them.
His departure this week capped off a near four-year stint marked by a 61-per-cent plunge in share price over the past 12 months and a political controversy tied to an ongoing corruption case.
Despite a beefed-up backlog and successful acquisitions like the WS Atkins purchase in 2017, analysts say faith has waned in Bruce's ability to make good on recent profit forecasts, avoid flops like SNC's cancelled Chilean mine contract and make judgments like his partial sale of the 407 toll road.
SNC-Lavalin's reputation has taken a beating over fraud and corruption charges related to its work in Libya that preceded Bruce's tenure. The firm has also been mired in a political controversy following accusations by former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould that top government officials pressured her to overrule federal prosecutors in the Libya case and negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the company.
"To all employees you are in great hands," Bruce wrote. "Ian knows the business well now and will do a great job, he is committed to our values of integrity safety innovation and collaboration so I wish you all well and much success in the coming months and years."