on November 6, 2014 in Montreal. SNC-Lavalin Group is cutting its quarterly dividend for shareholders by 80 per cent as the troubled construction and engineering company grapples with a $2.12 billion net loss in its second quarter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

New SNC-Lavalin CEO says plea deal unlikely despite Liberal election win

SNC-Lavalin shares shot up 14 per cent the day after an Oct. 21 Liberal election win

The head of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. says he is not expecting a plea deal on criminal charges against the engineering firm in the wake of the Liberal election victory.

“We kind of remain focused on defending ourselves through a court process,” said Ian Edwards, regarding an upcoming trial on bribery and corruption charges linked to SNC-Lavalin’s alleged dealings in Libya between 2001 and 2011.

“Obviously if there were opportunities for settling this in another way, we’d be open to that. But we don’t expect it,” he said on a conference call with investors Thursday.

SNC-Lavalin shares shot up 14 per cent the day after an Oct. 21 Liberal election win, which left the door open to a deferred prosecution agreement that would head off criminal prosecution.

Attorney General David Lametti has refused to shut down the possibility of such an agreement, which would drop the charges against the firm in exchange for SNC admitting responsibility for breaches and agreeing to conditions such as a fine and third-party oversight.

On Thursday shares rose nearly 21 per cent or $4.06 to close at $23.81 — their highest in more than three months — after SNC reported earnings that surpassed analyst expectations.

The partial sale of SNC’s stake in the Ontario Highway 407 toll road drove a massive year-over-year profit increase. About $2.6 billion of the firm’s $2.76 billion in net income last quarter — up from $120.7 million a year earlier — came from the after-tax gains of the 407 sale.

The engineering services segment played a role too. Its backlog rose nearly 10 per cent year over year to $11.42 billion in the third quarter as SNC signed seven new contracts worth roughly $500 million. Segment revenue jumped more than 11 per cent to $1.58 billion.

Edwards, who was appointed president and chief executive Thursday after serving in an interim role since June, sought to showcase the fruits of his vision for the company. The firm is pivoting away from big, fixed-price construction contracts — where the bidder shoulders any cost overruns — towards a more stable business model that revolves around engineering services.

ALSO READ: Trudeau election win boosts SNC-Lavalin shares amid hopes around criminal case

“It is still early days, but the decisions we made in July — to exit lump-sum turnkey construction contracting and reorganize the company to focus on our high-performing engineering services business — are demonstrating results, and I am encouraged by our progress,” Edwards said in a release.

SNC-Lavalin reduced its backlog of large, fixed-price contracts — which it aims to work off in the next two years — to $3.2 billion from $3.4 billion three months earlier. The bulk of them relate to light-rail projects in Canada, “which have traditionally…gone well for us,” Edwards said.

Some half-billion dollars’ worth of the lump-sum turnkey projects are for oil and gas, however, which do not have a history of turning a profit, he added.

Last October shares plunged after SNC-Lavalin revealed that federal prosecutors would not negotiate a deal, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pressuring then-attorney general Jody Wilson Raybould to reverse their stance.

The firm’s upcoming trial concerns charges of fraud under the Criminal Code and bribery under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

The Caisse, Quebec’s pension fund manager and SNC-Lavalin’s biggest shareholder at 19.9 per cent, said it backs Edwards’ appointment as CEO.

“Since taking the reins of the company a few months ago, he’s clearly put emphasis on execution challenges. That’s a good starting point for the work ahead,” the Caisse told The Canadian Press in an email.

Revenue for the three-month period ended Sept. 30 totalled $2.43 billion, down from $2.56 billion.

On an adjusted basis, which excluded the 407 sale, SNC said it earned $218.0 million or $1.24 per share in its third quarter, up from an adjusted profit of $168.4 million or 96 cents per share a year ago.

The results topped analyst expectations of adjusted income of $97.7 million or 26 cents per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Russell Books marks opening of new location by setting Guiness World Record

Store stacks world record books more than six metres high

PHOTOS: 11th annual Gingerbread Showcase comes to Victoria

Bakers spent more than 100 hours perfecting their creations

Time is ticking for Victoria school relocation

Beausoleil school hopes a one year extension is enough time to find a new home

Petition calls on province to cover transfer fees after Island adoption centre closes – again

‘Choices clients weren’t told the ship was sinking,’ says would-be parent

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

Most Read