Examining the 'new and old Lavalin' as SNC's CEO steps down
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (SNC.TO) is looking for a new boss and a new strategy as the Canadian engineering firm struggles to recover from a string of setbacks that have wiped out about 60 per cent of its market value in the past year.
The Montreal-based firm, which found itself at the heart of Canada’s biggest political scandal in years, said Tuesday that Chief Executive Officer Neil Bruce is retiring. His interim successor, Chief Operating Officer Ian Edwards, was tasked with leading a strategic review and establishing a plan “for sustainable success” at the company, which has 52,000 employees in 50 countries.
The board wants Edwards to come with a proposal “that de-risks and simplifies our business model and generates consistent earnings and cash flow,” SNC said in a statement on Tuesday. “In doing so, he will also use the next 60 days to meet with key stakeholders to get their perspectives and strengthen relationships.”
The surprise announcement is the latest twist for the company, which is facing a trial in Canada for corruption charges, reported an unexpected loss last quarter and has stopped bidding on some mining projects after getting into a costly dispute in Chile. Even selling a stake in a Toronto toll road proved more complicated than initially planned and failed to stem the stock’s slide.
Edwards joined the company in 2014 and has been COO since January.
Analysts led by Maxim Sytchev, at National Bank of Canada, said the strategic review may offer a glimmer of hope for the company.
“We applaud the company’s review of strategic emphasis that appears to prioritize consistency and cash flows,” Sytchev wrote in a note. “If the company itself cannot get there, a privatization should also be strongly considered.”