John Cann joins Hochtief PPP Solutions, but precise role remains unclear

German contractor Hochtief has appointed John Cann, a director of Laing’s Equion subsidiary, to head its PFI operations in the UK.

The move has caused some surprise in the industry, as Hochtief PPP Solutions already has a managing director, Roger Potts, who took over the business nine months ago.

The relative positions of Cann and Potts is unclear. One source familiar with the situation suggested that one would take on a more senior role than the other, in the style of a chief executive to a chief operating officer. However they may also become joint managing directors.

Potts assumed his role after Phillip Cooper, the previous managing director, resigned to join HSBC at the end of last year. It is understood that Potts was initially offered the job on a temporary basis, but accepted on condition that the position be made permanent.

Speaking to Building in November, Potts said his appointment would avoid disrupting the firm’s operations. He said: “It is not like there is a new managing director coming in and sweeping clean.”

Cann is on holiday, and will then take gardening leave until he joins Hochtief in the autumn.

Equion specialises in funding and operating PFI serviced accommodation projects such as schools and hospitals. Cann is in charge of its criminal justice work. He was also responsible for developing Equion’s business in Northern and Southern Ireland.

Before he joined Equion’s board, he worked in a variety of roles for the company, including operations manager, bid manager and commercial manager.

Cann shared a platform with Bernward Kulle, managing director of Hochtief’s German PPP business, when both were speakers at a conference on school PFIs in Paris last September.

The firm is involved in 20 PPP projects around the world, in which it has invested about £6bn. It concentrates on toll roads and public sector construction projects.

Hochtief declined to comment on the appointment, but said that an announcement was imminent.