As firm eyes 2024 float, Seamus French says changes will cut costs and simplify governance

Incoming Laing O’Rourke chief executive Seamus French has stripped out several trading names at the UK business and streamlined it into five legal entities.

French said the move will cut administration costs and simplify the reporting structure of the UK business.

French, who is managing director of O’Rourke’s Europe hub, which includes its UK, Canada and Middle East businesses, said: “This much simpler corporate structure is a positive move for the business and all our stakeholders.

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O’Rourke’s offsite Explore business will be one of five operating businesses under a streamlined reporting structure

“The restructure will simplify our financial reporting process and ensure we can run our corporate structure more efficiently, allowing management to focus their time on running the core trading companies that will drive the growth of the business.”

The firm’s UK businesses have previously filed individual sets of results at Companies House with the biggest, Laing O’Rourke plc, including its construction, manufacturing and plant hire work.

O’Rourke said five operating businesses (see box) will now report into Laing O’Rourke Holdings.

• Laing O’Rourke Delivery, which will comprise the Buildings and Infrastructure trading businesses;

• Explore 2050 Engineering, comprised of Expanded, the specialist civils and structures business, and Crown House Technologies, the specialist MEP business;

• Explore 2050 Manufacturing, which will include Laing O’Rourke’s two UK manufacturing facilities – Explore Manufacturing in Nottinghamshire and CHt Manufacturing in the West Midlands – and well as geotechnical business Expanded Piling, and specialist stone contractor Vetter;

• Select Plant Hire remains a standalone trading business for cranes, plant and equipment; and

• Laing O’Rourke Services, made up of employment entities, as well as specialist digital design and recruitment businesses

The firm said the changes will not impact the leadership teams of any of Laing O’Rourke’s specialist trading entities.

Madeleina Loughrey-Grant, the firm’s group director of legal, added: “These structural changes represent another step forward in our governance journey, making compliance and governance simpler and streamlining further our corporate governance and ESG reporting.”

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Seamus French (right) will replace Ray O’Rourke as chief executive at the end of the summer

Last summer, founder and chief executive Ray O’Rourke said the firm was planning a stock exchange listing by 2024, bringing to an end more than 40 years of family control.

O’Rourke founded R O’Rourke & Son in 1977 as a concrete subcontractor but broke through into the main contracting market in 2001 when it caused shockwaves in the industry by snapping up Laing Construction from John Laing for £1, later changing the name to Laing O’Rourke.

French is due to take over from O’Rourke as chief executive of the country’s biggest private contractor at the end of the summer.