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A pedestrian walks past the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., headquarters in Montreal, in this file photo. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)
A pedestrian walks past the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., headquarters in Montreal, in this file photo. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

SNC-Lavalin VP to retire after shift from CFO position Add to ...

The head of infrastructure concession investments at SNC-Lavalin is retiring just months after the engineering giant announced his shift from the position as chief financial officer.

Gilles Laramee, who joined the Montreal-based company in 1986, will retire on Aug. 9. He was replaced as CFO last month by Alain-Pierre Raynaud, a former executive of French nuclear giant Areva.

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Laramee, who is in his 50s, was named late last year to take over the new infrastructure and concessions business unit to provide “strategic oversight and more active management of the business to leverage its full value.”

Asked Thursday why he was leaving so soon after being named to oversee the unit, SNC-Lavalin spokeswoman Leslie Quinton described it as a “personal choice.”

Despite his shift in positions, Laramee survived earlier this year when new chief executive Robert Card shook up the embattled engineering firm’s senior management team and created a new organizational structure as SNC-Lavalin tries to turn the page on bribery and other allegations that have sullied its reputation.

SNC’s former CEO and vice-president have been charged with fraud over allegations that $22.5-million was used to win the $1.3-billion Montreal megahospital contract in 2010.

Card thanked Laramee for his “27 years of service and extensive contributions to the company.”

At SNC-Lavalin’s annual meeting in May, Card outlined his strategy for the future, which included the sale of non-core infrastructure assets and the possibility of reducing its stake in other large investments.

SNC-Lavalin’s main concession assets are 407 International and AltaLink, one of Canada’s largest power transmission companies. It also has ownership stakes in a series of projects including the new concert hall for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the new megahospital it is building in Montreal.

The assets provide financial stability but Card said they are also very attractive to potential partners.

Maxim Sytchev of Dundee Securities Corp. said Laramee’s departure is not unexpected and is a “natural progression on any turnaround situation.”

“When Bob Card came in Oct. 1, there was anticipation that we’re going to witness a full turnover in the C-suite and that’s exactly what we’ve seen,” he said.

Sytchev said the timing of Laramee’s departure has nothing to do with any asset sales.

Smaller assets may be sold, but he said the investment community cares most about Highway 407 and AltaLink.

“It’s sort of difficult right now to contemplate anything unless the company settles all the ethical issues and that has a timing of its own,” said Sytchev.

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