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Profile, David Robson, Amec's new chief operating officer

Amec's latest round of management streamlining has seen the appointment of a new boss for its civils and building operations.

Until last week David Robson was a main board director in charge of Amec's process engineering business. Now, as chief operating officer he is in charge of all construction and engineering operations, combining building and civil engineering with the process engineering and mechanical and electrical businesses.

The expansion of Robson's responsibilities puts him in charge of the biggest chunk of Amec's £2.7bn annual turnover. The building and civils operation alone had a combined turnover of around £1.2bn in 1996 while M&E, and Process & Energy account for another £1.2bn.

But the reshuffle creates a single point of responsibility for the five component businesses. This is intended to encourage them to combine their expertise when bidding for work on high value multi-disciplinary projects.

It also tightens up a management structure which had to change after Sir Alan Cockshaw retired last year as chairman and international corporate ambassador.

Under the new structure devised by chief executive Peter Mason, former building and civils director Malcolm Eckersall has stepped into the newly created role of business development director. He takes over Cockshaw's ambassadorial and work-getting role. Cockshaw's replacement Sydney Gillibrand is more hands-off, concentrating on corporate governance issues.

Robson has been an Amec man since the company was formed in 1982 through the merger of Fairclough and Press Construction. Before the merger he was managing director of Press which had built itself up on the back of utilities and process engineering work.

He stayed on at Press until 1990, overseeing major gas distribution systems and process engineering contracts.

A move to Amec's Cheshire head office led to Robson taking charge of the manufacturing and services division. In 1991 he became a main board director, adding mechanical and electrical businesses in Britain, the US and Australia to his portfolio of responsibilities. Process & Energy came under his wing in 1994.

Robson reports directly to Mason who retains his overall strategic role as well as direct charge of Fairclough Homes and the Morse Diesel subsidiary in the US.

The changes probably would have taken place before Christmas, but for Mason's enforced absence after being taken ill last autumn (NCE 11 September 1997).

Although a relative stranger to the day to day running of the construction business, Robson has played a key role in its evolution in recent years, notably in the buying and selling of businesses.

Among his achievements, he last year negotiated the sale of Press's 20% stake in Egyptian Gas and also helped with Amec's acquisition of 41.6% of French contractor Spie Batignolles.

Andrew Bolton

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