Firm says Steve Coleby staying put as it begins recruitment drive at its Australia business

Laing O’Rourke director Steve Coleby has stepped down as a director of the firm’s plc business – but is remaining at the company.

He was appointed back in May 2015 but documents filed at Companies House show the 43-year-old resigned at the end of last month.

Laing O’Rourke plc is the group’s largest division and covers its operations in Europe, Canada and Abu Dhabi and includes 126 subsidiaries such as its plant hire firm Select.

Current directors include O’Rourke founder Ray O’Rourke and his younger brother Dessie along with group finance director Stewart McIntyre.

According to Companies House, 28 directors have resigned from the business since it was set up more than 16 years with previous appointments including former chief executive Anna Stewart, who left in April 2013, and managing director Paul Sheffield who left earlier this year.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesperson said Coleby was staying with the business, adding: “I can confirm that Steve Coleby remains the UK Building Division’s commercial director, a position he has held for over two years.”

But another plc director, the firm’s chief officer for investments and corporate finance Ceri Richards, who was recruited from Lloyds Bank where she was a managing director, has left the firm.

Documents filed at Companies House show that Richards, who was appointed in August 2013 and also previously worked for HBOS, stepped down at the end of May.

In its last set of published results, for the 12 months to March 2016, the plc arm plunged to a £267m pre-tax loss on the back of losses on a PFI hospital contract in Canada, problems with its offsite manufacturing business and restructuring costs.

Meanwhile, Laing O’Rourke has begun looking for new staff for its Australian operations fuelling speculation that the firm has lowered the for sale sign it put on it at the beginning of last year.

Last April, Ray O’Rourke said the sale was progressing “in line with expectations” and promised there would be “more definition on the progress regarding the divestment of the Australia Hub” the following month.

But more than a year later no announcement on its sale has been made and two weeks ago the firm posted details of a recruitment drive on its website.

It said the campaign “will roll out over a number of months” and is “targeting talented professionals with strong technical skills for roles in project management, project engineering, health, safety and quality, quantity surveying, project supervisors and other experienced leaders”.

Cathal O’Rourke, the managing director of the firm’s Australia Hub, said: “We are looking for people who share our passion for innovation and are committed to finding smarter and safer ways of delivering certainty for our clients.”

Asked whether the business was still up for sale, the Laing O’Rourke spokesperson added: “Our Australian business has continued to perform well over the past year, securing significant infrastructure projects mainly through collaborative contracts, in markets that also have record spends forecast up to 2020 and beyond. There is nothing further to report at this stage.”

The £1.5bn Australian arm was set up in 2004 but expanded rapidly three years later after the firm snapped up Barclay Mowlem from Carillion – after the latter decided to pull out of the region following its takeover of Mowlem the year before.