A major shareholder in SNC-Lavalin has claimed that UK consultants Atkins could be sold off, as the company explores means to protect its financial wellbeing.
Taylor Asset Management chief investment officer David Taylor claims that SNC-Lavalin’s bosses are considering “spinning off assets” in a bid to protect the company.
It comes in the midst of an ongoing case in Canada where SNC-Lavalin faces allegations of fraud and corruption over historical incidents relating to projects in Libya. SNC-Lavalin has denied the allegations.
Taylor claims that SNC-Lavalin’s chief executive Neil Bruce and chief financial officer Sylvain Gerard openly talked about “spinning off assets” – including Atkins – at a private lunch in Toronto.
Taylor added: “They mentioned spinning off. They’ve got great assets within that are being punished and their good assets aren’t being valued properly.
“So, they sort of hypothetically talked about crystallizing that value, and the only way you can really do that is to sell,” he added.
A spokesperson for SNC-Lavalin confirmed that “all available alternatives to increase value for SNC-Lavalin stakeholders are [being] explored”.
“We have always maintained that our priority is to make SNC-Lavalin a successful, competitive global company,” the spokesperson said.
”The purpose of Plan B is to ensure that all available alternatives to increase value for SNC-Lavalin stakeholders are explored. As it relates to any specific possible outcome of Plan B, it is speculative, and we will not comment on speculation or rumours.”
SNC-Lavalin is alleged to have paid C$48m (£27M) in bribes to Libyan officials to win contracts in the decade leading up to the country’s ex-head of state Muammar Gaddafi being ousted in 2011.
In 2015, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada laid federal charges against SNC-Lavalin regarding allegations of bribery in Libya. SNC-Lavalin denies the charges and the case is yet to be resolved.
If SNC-Lavalin is successfully prosecuted it could result in the firm being banned from working for the Canadian government for 10 years.
SNC-Lavalin bought Atkins for £2.1bn in 2017, which now has more than 10,000 employees in Britain.
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