March 1, 2024

Laing O’Rourke, the London contractor that is the U.K.’s largest privately owned construction firm, said on Nov. 29 that its co-founder and 45-year CEO Ray O’Rourke will leave that role next September. It named as his successor Seamus French, a division CEO of Anglo American plc, a U.K.-based multinational mining firm.
He takes the new CEO job under a three-year contract, Laing O’Rourke said.
French, who has been a board member of the contractor since 2020, joins the contractor in January as managing director of its Europe business until the succession. Ray O’Rourke will remain a deputy chair with his brother Des, who also founded the firm in 1978. 
Seamus French
Ray O’Rourke told investors and analysts last summer that the firm would seek to complete an initial public offering by 2024, with U.K. market observers linking that to French’s hire from Anglo-American, which is publicly traded.
Laing O’Rourke Chairman Sir John Parker said French, a chemical engineer, is “a world class executive with rich engineering experience … and deep knowledge of our operating markets.”
Also Rebecca Hanley was named Managing Director of the firm’s Australian business. Currently Group Director of Strategy and Transformation and leader of Laing O’Rourke’s R&D operations, she takes the role in April to succeed Cathal O’Rourke, the son of Ray. He remains a non-executive board member.
Laing O’Rourke reported revenue for its year ending this past March of about $3.3 billion, which was flat from the previous year.
Among the firm’s major U.K. projects are the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the Crossrail and HS2 rail lines and Thames Tideway sewage tunnel in London.
One market analyst said the contractor’s offsite fabrication operation was the most advanced in the U.K. construction sector and could be a company differentiator, according to the Financial Times. The firm told analysts it expects to grow revenue to about $5.3 billion by 2025.
The LiRo Group, Syosset, N.Y., named Robert Young senior vice president and architecture business unit head, directing the firm’s design services, program management, interiors planning and construction administration. Previously an architecture director at STV, he also had been associate principal at Grimshaw.
LiRo also named Panagiotis “Peter” Koklanos as senior vice president leading its civil-structural engineering group. He is a former vice president of McLaren Engineering Group. 

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As ENR Editor-at-Large for Management, Business and Workforce, Debra K. Rubin has a broad vantage for news, issues and trends in global engineering, architecture and construction—from corporate finance and executive management to regulation and risk, next-generation workforce and developing markets such as offshore wind energy.
Debra also launched and manages ENR's Top 200 Environmental Firms ranking, which defines a $51-billion global market; and is editor of ENR WorkforceToday e-newsletter on industry talent management; She also is a key organizer of ENR's annual Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference, a major AEC industry forum for talent management and women's career advancement.
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