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Laing O’Rourke changes project director on problem hospital job

Laing O’Rourke has replaced the project director leading the construction of its loss-making Canadian hospital job, Construction News can reveal.

Lindsay McGibbon, the project director for Laing O’Rourke’s Construction Santé Montréal JV delivering the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, has now returned to the UK business.

He has been replaced by Laing O’Rourke’s Australian programme director Christopher Wilkinson, who will manage the final arrangements for phase one of the CAD$2.1bn (£1.2bn) hospital scheme, and oversee the delivery of phase two.

In January, Laing O’Rourke revealed it had delayed its full-year accounts as negotiations continued over wrapping up its involvement on the Canadian hospital job.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesman said the changes in management formed part of the firm’s decreasing presence on the scheme.

Laing O’Rourke completed phase one of the hospital last year, before agreeing a CAD$329m (£235m) deal for local contractor Pomerleau to construct phase two.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesman said: “As announced at the time of the Pomerleau agreement, Laing O’Rourke’s role in the delivery JV has changed and a small team will continue in Canada to finalise phase one arrangements and work with Pomerleau as they execute stage two.”

Mr McGibbon’s move back to the UK comes a month after the project’s commercial lead, Toy Wilkinson, left Laing O’Rourke to become John Sisk & Son’s commercial assurance director back in the UK.

New project director Christopher Wilkinson joins the project after working across Laing O’Rourke’s businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

His roles have included managing director of Laing O’Rourke’s Middle East subsidiary Aldar, as well as director of human capital management across the group.

Laing O’Rourke’s Construction Santé Montreal (CSM) JV with Spanish contractor OHL signed the original deal to build the CAD$2.1bn (£1.2bn) hospital in 2011 under a 38-year concession PPP contract.

The project has been beset by problems, with the first stage delayed by 11 months and the JV embroiled in a number of disputes over payments with subcontractors.

Last month CN revealed the firm faced more than CAD$82m (£47m) in payment claims from subcontractors that had worked for the firm on phase one.

Laing O’Rourke’s accounts are due imminently after a delay of five months.

The contractor is expected to reveal an overall loss for the year but is confident of posting underlying profit, excluding the Canadian scheme.

Last January Laing O’Rourke revealed a £93m writedown on the value of the CHUM project as part of a £245m group loss – the first in the firm’s 15-year history.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesman told CN: “This is a complex process but we are working with our audit partners to get it processed and that will enable us to file our accounts at Companies House.”

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