Division’s new chief operating officer targets Qatar in five-year business strategy

Norman Haste, the new chief operating officer of Laing O’Rourke’s Middle East division, is drawing up a five-year plan to expand in the region.

Haste, formerly chief executive of Heathrow Terminal 5 and Crossrail, said he would hand the plan to Ray O’Rourke, the contractor’s chief executive, “in the next few weeks”.

It is likely that Dubai-based Al Naboodah-Laing O’Rourke, as the division is known, will highlight neighbouring Qatar as a growth area.

Laing O’Rourke has no projects in Qatar now, but Haste said: “There are lots of things going on there, as there are in Abu Dhabi. Qatar is just a 40-minute plane ride from Dubai, like going to Scotland [from London].”

Haste added that Middle Eastern clients might sign design-and-build framework agreements. Most large projects in the region are by competitive tender, but Haste said: “Clients there might be receptive to long-term relationships owing to the lack of construction resources available.”

Haste has experience of pioneering framework deals at airports operator BAA, which worked with Laing O’Rourke on the model for Terminal 5’s construction contract.

Laing O’Rourke might also look at a number of airport deals that are about to come to the Middle East market, including a new-build scheme in Dubai.

Al Naboodah-Laing O’Rourke should be in a good position to win this project, as it is putting the finishing touches to a £350m terminal at Dubai international airport.

Haste added that another part of the business plan could be to spread operations into civil engineering and building work.

Haste only joined Laing O’Rourke three-and-a-half weeks ago from engineer High-Point Rendel, where he was operations director.

It is understood that O’Rourke personally asked Haste to join the company. “I have known Ray for a long time and we are like-minded,” said Haste.

• Laing O’Rourke has bought Carillion’s Australian division, Barclay Mowlem, for £30m. Carillion inherited the business when it bought contractor Mowlem for £313m in February.