SNC Lavalin names Robert Card as new CEO

Former CH2M Hill exec to help engineering giant move past controversy.

Comments Off on SNC Lavalin names Robert Card as new CEO August 13, 2012
by Canadian Press

Embattled SNC-Lavalin has appointed an outsider as the company’s new chief executive following the resignation of Pierre Duhaime, who stepped down amid controversy over millions in mysterious payments in North Africa.

Robert Card, a former senior executive at CH2M Hill Companies Ltd., will take the reins Oct. 1. He was chosen after a global search for leaders outside the Montreal-based construction and engineering giant, which has recently been mired in scandal. In addition to his role as president and CEO, Card will also sit on the company’s board of directors.

SNC-Lavalin has been feeling the fallout from investigations into $56 million worth of payments that were directed through its Tunisian office to unknown sales agents. The rogue payouts prompted it to part ways with several senior executives, including former chief executive officer Pierre Duhaime. Duhaime stepped aside in March after a probe revealed he signed off on payments to undisclosed agents, breaching the company’s code of ethics.

Despite the scandal, the new CEO, who has nearly 40 years of experience in managing infrastructure and energy projects, said he is excited about the “enormous opportunity that this company represents.”

“SNC-Lavalin has long been known as an international player with significant credibility in the (engineering and construction) sector globally and excellent people,” Card said in a statement. Card added he and his wife are excited to move to Quebec and to learn French, a language he called “an integral part of this global firm’s heritage.”

At CH2M Hill, he held a variety of positions, including president and group chief executive of the international division. He also recently acted as COO for the consortium responsible for building the $15 billion London Olympics complex.

Between 2001 and 2004, he was an under secretary with the U.S. Department of Energy. Card has a Masters degree in Environmental and Civil Engineering from Stanford University and also attended Harvard.

The company said last week it’s committed to ethical behaviour and good corporate governance as it awaits the outcome of the investigations involving former employees.

Despite the controversy, SNC continued to receive numerous mega-project contracts during the quarter including a part of a $1-billion extension of the 407 toll highway in southern Ontario.

Shares in the company, which made the announcement Friday after markets closed, moved 12 cents higher to close at $37.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
© The Canadian Press, 2012