One money manager said he’d steer clear of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.’s stock amid the fallout from the political scandal engulfing the engineering giant.

“I’d probably be on the sideline right now – we don’t own it and haven’t for a while,” John Zechner, chairman and founder of J. Zechner Associates, who occasionally takes a short position in the Montreal-based company, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Thursday.

“I don’t like trying to catch these falling knives.”

Zechner added there’s a couple of different factors at play when considering SNC’s stock.

“On the engineering side, you’ve got to worry. What mega project’s board of directors is going to sit down over the next year or two, look at the people who are applying projects or putting in bids, and look at SNC-Lavalin and really give them a fair shot?” Zechner said. “I think that’s going to be very difficult on the engineering side.”

However, Zechner said the value of the company’s stake in Ontario’s Highway 407 is what investors are paying for in SNC’s stock price today.

SNC came under the microscope earlier this year when the company announced it took a $1.24 billion impairment charge in its oil and gas unit amid a diplomatic spat between Canada in Saudi Arabia. Separately, political tensions having been mounting between the Prime Minister’s Office and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould over alleged pressure to order a remediation agreement to avoid criminal prosecution regarding the company’s business dealings in Libya.

“It’s enough for me to say, ‘There’s enough issues in the market right now – I don’t need this,’” Zechner said. “I looked at [shorting the stock] but I didn’t think there was going to be as much noise as there was. I’m on neither side right now.”

Shares of SNC are down more than 20 per cent year-to-date.


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