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The SNC-Lavalin headquarters is seen in Montreal on Feb. 12, 2019.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

SNC-Lavalin Group is reducing its risk in the Middle East and other regions as the engineering and construction firm faces headwinds such as the COVID-19 pandemic and fluctuating oil prices, chief executive Ian Edwards said on Thursday.

While the company is not exiting the Asia Pacific and Middle East markets, it has “been careful to derisk” exposure to “fluctuating workloads,” in those regions, Mr. Edwards told a virtual event organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

“As COVID has hit the Middle East, and also you know, the fluctuation in oil prices, we’ve seen workloads kind of fluctuate there,” he said.

Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin is instead focusing on its core geographies of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, he said.

According to its 2019 annual report, the company generated 18 per cent of its revenue from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, that year, down from 20 per cent a year earlier, on a decline in its resources business.

SNC-Lavalin is restructuring its resource business in a bid to make the unit profitable in 2021.

The company has also said it would exit money-losing lump sum, turnkey contracts to allow it to focus on higher-performing growth areas such as engineering services.

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