The firm’s founder and majority shareholder will be succeeded by Seamus French who is currently CEO of mining giant Anglo American’s Bulk Commodities and Other Minerals division.
French will will join the O’Rourke leadership team in January – initially as Managing Director of the Europe Hub and CEO-designate, on a three-year contract.
The appointment to first lead the Europe business will allow an orderly CEO handover from Ray O’Rourke to French following the delivery of the FY22 (April 2021 – March 2022) trading period, audit and accounts. French will then be Group CEO and Europe Hub MD.
He has already spent 18 months with O’Rourke as a Non-Executive Director.
O’Rourke chairman Sir John Parker said: “The Board and I have witnessed the extensive plc and international company operating experience that Seamus brings to the role.
“He is a world-class executive with rich engineering experience, a successful leadership and project track record, and deep knowledge of our operating markets.”
French said: “I am honoured that the Board has given me the opportunity to lead the business.
“During my time on the Board, I have been hugely impressed by Laing O’Rourke’s team, its technical and engineering expertise, the current portfolio of projects and strong order book. It has a compelling vision to transform construction and to build safely and sustainably, while always caring for its people.
“Ray, Des and the leadership team have set some very exciting ambitions for the next few years and I’m confident we have the people and experience to achieve those goals, while continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible in this vital industry.”
Ray O’Rourke, 74, recently confirmed plans to float the business by 2024 with his succession part of that process.
His decision to step down comes almost 45 years after he and his brother Des began in the business with a single £2500 concrete structures project.
Ray O’Rourke will join Des as a Deputy Chairman of the Group and continue his focus on innovation, people development and major clients.
In Australia Managing Director Cathal O’Rourke has also decided to step down in April with current Group Director of Strategy and Transformation Rebecca Hanley to take over.