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CN Briefing; London Stock Exchange; Morgan Sindall; fit-out; T Clarke; pension deficit

“It’s not the 80s anymore, eh?” someone remarked to me as I was guided out of the London Stock Exchange this morning.

They must have sensed my disappointment because they added: “If you go to the atrium, I think you can still get a glimpse of the stock floor,” but that was little consolation. I think it’s safe to say LSE’s Wolf of Wall Street days are long gone.

Rather than being surrounded by chaotic traders, I was surrounding by closed wooden doors. A shame for anyone who was looking for a bit of late morning excitement.

Still, I had just finished an interview with Morgan Sindall chief executive John Morgan, who was in a rather good mood.

“I love these things,” he said as he showed me to the conference room – after this morning’s results, it’s easy to see why.

The contractor today posted a 21 per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £16.6m for H1 2016.

Cast you mind back a year ago and the mood was perhaps a little different, though Mr Morgan assured me that he still relished a results day – good or bad.

We covered a lot of ground: Brexit; political uncertainty; Chinese investment; Johnathan Goring; and the group’s pension deficit.

But the CEO is not one for giving much away.

Brexit impact? “It’s just too early to say.” Political uncertainty? “Who knows what’s going to happen but we have to adapt to change.” Chinese investment? “It’s on the radar and we don’t know the answer.” Johnathan Goring? “He’s an interesting guy.”

The group’s pension deficit? “We don’t have one!” he sparked before asking his press team in the room: “I’ve got to be careful with pensions, haven’t I?”

“We have no pension issue basically, which is becoming more important,” he adds.

News from T Clarke this morning certainly highlighted Mr Morgan’s final point, after the M&E firm’s pension scheme deficit increased to £21.9m.

Elsewhere in Morgan Sindall, its chief exec was keen to focus on the group’s fit-out division. He said a lot of new-build commercial work was finishing, giving them 40 per cent of their orders already for next year.

“We are really the only quoted company now with a significant [fit-out] business,” he explained (following ISG de-listing).

And from the sound of it, he wants it to stay that way. Asked what he thinks of growing players in the market, he simply says: “It’s our job to be better.”

In other news

Tech week: A new service from Autodesk claims to provide real-time visualisations of Revit models within the software itself. We gauge the industry’s reaction.

What would cancelling Hinkley Point C mean for the infrastructure pipeline? Find out more here.

WATCH: Fight breaks out at HS2 revised route meeting.


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