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Jul 23, 2019

SNC-Lavalin may be 'beyond saving,' portfolio manager says

SNC trying to prevent 'inevitable' massive downsizing: Money manager

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SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.’s (SNC.TO) plan to turn around the company with a massive new restructuring strategy may not be enough to save it, according to Middlefield Capital Corp.’s president and chief investment officer.

“The reality is this situation with SNC has been a disaster,” Dean Orrico told BNN Bloomberg’s Paul Bagnell Tuesday. “This thing may be beyond saving at this point.”

On Monday, SNC issued its third profit warning of the year, withdrew its financial forecasts and announced that it would take a $1.9-billion charge related to its oil and gas business. The embattled Montreal-based engineering firm also said it is exiting lump-sum turnkey contracting and reviewing “all options” for its struggling resources unit.

SNC’s shares, which have slumped 48 per cent in 2019, closed nearly seven per cent lower at $23.80 on the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday.

In a strongly-worded rebuke hours after SNC’s announcement, the company’s largest shareholder, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, said the company’s deteriorating performance is “a cause of growing concern.” The Quebec pension fund urged SNC’s board of directors to take “decisive and timely action.”

Orrico, however, said that SNC Interim President and CEO Ian Edwards’ overhaul plan may not be enough to stem investors’ uncertainty over the company and prevent the “inevitable.”

“I think investors at the end of the day [are starting] to lose confidence in these businesses – in their ability to generate profit, to do things in a legitimate fashion,” Orrico said.

“Now [SNC is] pivoting … to a more simple, conservative lower-return, lower-risk business that’s going to garner a lower multiple and maybe more stability. So at the end of the day what is this business right now?

“I think they’re trying to prevent the inevitable, which is a massive downsizing of the business … that may be the inevitable conclusion for this company in the coming months.”