September 14, 2015 / 12:57 PM / 2 years ago

SNC-Lavalin to replace CEO hired amid bribery scandal

(Reuters) - The chief executive hired to steer Canadian engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (SNC.TO) through a wide-ranging corruption scandal in 2012 will step down next month, handing off the company to his operations chief, the company said on Monday.

Robert Card, an outsider brought in after the Montreal-based firm was rocked by allegations of corruption against former executives, will be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Neil Bruce effective Oct. 5. Card will stay on as an advisor.

AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray said the announcement was not a surprise, given an April reorganization that saw Bruce elevated to chief operating officer, with the heads of four operating divisions reporting to him. He had previously led the company's resources and environment group.

"I think it would be fair to think that it may just be the end of his term," said Murray on Card. "It might be time to move to the next phase of the company's growth."

SNC said it would not hire a new chief operating officer.

Bruce has been with SNC since 2013, and helped build up the company's oil and gas business. He had previously been chief operating officer at rival firm AMEC, now Amec Foster Wheeler PLC (AMFW.L).

"Together, we will deliver improved results and returns as we continue to improve operational efficiency, while managing the remaining legacy issues," he said in a statement.

While SNC has won some key contracts and overhauled its ethics and compliance system under Card, the firm is still dealing with the fallout from the bribery scandal. In February, Canadian police brought corruption charges against the company. SNC said it would plead not guilty.

In April, a consortium led by SNC-Lavalin was chosen to build a new multi-billion dollar bridge in the Montreal area. Also under Card's tenure, the company bought resource-sector engineering group Kentz Corp, boosting earnings.

But it has struggled with some existing projects. Second-quarter earnings fell short of analysts' expectations after the firm ran into costly problems on two infrastructure projects.

Shares slipped 1.5 percent to C$38.57 on the Toronto Stock Exchange in early trading on Monday.

Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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