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Carillion finance chief exits amid major shake-up

  • Finance chief Zafar Khan exits with immediate effect
  • Former chief exec Richard Howson to leave at end of this month just weeks after being reappointed COO
  • Three other top execs also set to leave
  • EY exec parachuted in as chief transformation officer

Troubled Carillion has revealed a major shake-up of its executive team, including the departure of its finance chief Zafar Khan with immediate effect. 

The company, which was rocked by a major profit warning in July and a sharp drop in its share price, announced to the stock market today that group finance director Mr Khan has left after nine months in the role. 

Emma Mercer, finance director of Carillion’s UK construction business, has stepped up to the role of chief financial officer with immediate effect on a permanent basis. She will not sit on the board as an executive director, but will attend board meetings, a Carillion spokesman confirmed. 

In other changes, former chief executive Richard Howson, who took up the COO post after stepping down from the top job at the time of the profit warning, will leave at the end of this month.

Carillion had previously said Mr Howson would stay on for up to a year. 

Andy Jones, currently Carillion’s Canada president and chief executive, has been appointed chief operating officer and will take up the role on 1 October. 

Adam Green, managing director of its construction services division and Nigel Taylor, Carillion Services’ managing director, will leave on 30 September.

Shaun Carter, Carillion’s group strategy director, will step down from the construction and support services firm by “the end of the year”.

Carillion has also appointed Lee Watson as its chief transformation officer, on secondment from Ernst & Young. The accountants are helping Carillion with a strategic review of the business, with the results due to be announced later this month. 

The changes are a clear signal that Carillion’s interim chief executive Keith Cochrane is determined to get to grips with the group’s problems.

The firm’s share price has hit an all-time low since news of the profit warning, which came after Carillion announced an £845m writedown on problem contracts, in the UK, Middle East and Canada. 

The company’s woes has seen it drop out of the FTSE 250

Carillion is due to reveal details of its strategic review on 29 September as part of its delayed half-year results. The firm has also hired HSBC to help with the review. 

Shares in Carillion were down around 4 per cent in mid-morning trading today. 

Carillion’s rollercoaster – a timeline

10 July – The firm announces a major profit warning after an £845 writedown on problem contracts in the UK, Middle East and Canada. Chief executive Richard Howson steps down as chief executive and the group suspends its dividend. The news sees the firm’s share price dive more than 70% in the following days and around £600m is wiped off its market value.

17 July – Carillion’s share price temporarily bounces back after it picks up two HS2 contracts, worth £1.34bn as part of a consortium with Kier and Eiffage. However Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is forced to defend the decision after concerns are raised.

18 AugustConstruction News reveals that Richard Howson has taken up his old job of chief operating officer at Carillion.

24 August – The firm’s share price gets another bump after Construction News reports it has won a £300m contract to build a mixed-use scheme in Manchester.

31 August – Carillion drops out the of the FTSE 250 as its share price remains in the doldrums and near an all-time low.

11 September – The firm reveals details of a major executive cull as five senior management figures – including group finance director Zafar Khan and Richard Howson – leave the company.


Readers' comments (1)

  • Interesting appointment of Andy Jones as COO considering the dreadful state he left Carillion's Oman and Qatar businesses in prior to his move to Canada.

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