SNC-Lavalin names Jeff Bell as chief financial officer

11 February 2020 Consulting.ca

Design and engineering consultancy SNC-Lavalin has named Jeff Bell as their chief financial officer, as part of the firm’s “ongoing renewal process at the senior leadership level,” a release from the firm stated.

Bell was previously CFO of Centrica, a UK-based energy services and solutions company. He also previously worked at Boston Consulting Group and KPMG. He joins the firm today as an executive vice president, and will work closely with current CFO Sylvain Girard over a two-month transition period before becoming CFO on April 14.

"Jeff brings valuable leadership experience as the former Group CFO of a global energy services and solutions firm,” said Ian Edwards, president and CEO of SNC-Lavalin. “SNC-Lavalin is focused on growing its high-potential Engineering Services business in core geographies around the world, an objective to which Jeff is uniquely suited. As a Canadian, he understands the Company's deep roots as a Montreal-based global engineering firm, and the importance of the Canadian market to its success."

Bell spent the last 17 years with Centrica in senior finance roles. He joined the Toronto office of the firm’s Direct Energy business in 2002 as VP of finance, and then moved to the UK in 2008, where he served as head of group strategy and director of corporate finance & group financial controller. In 2014 he was appointed CFO at the FTSE-listed company, which had revenues of £29.69 billion in 2018.

SNC-Lavalin names Jeff Bell as chief financial officer

Earlier in his career, Bell was a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and a senior accountant and manager at KPMG Canada. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Bell’s appointment follows a number of other recent appointments, including that of Charlene Ripley as EVP and general counsel, and Louis Véronneau as the company’s first chief transformation officer.

Neil Bruce was succeeded as CEO by Ian Edwards in June 2019, who announced a major restructuring effort weeks into his tenure. In September, Edwards said the company would exit the field of big, fixed-price construction contracts, where bidders shoulder potential cost overruns, and pivot to a more stable engineering services-centred business model.

Earlier this month, Quebec oversight body Autorité des marchés publics blacklisted several subsidiaries of SNC-Lavalin from bidding on public contracts in the province until January 2025. In December, the firm’s construction division pleaded guilty to corruption and agreed to pay $280 million to settle federal criminal charges stemming from the bribing of Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 to win lucrative construction contracts.

The guilty plea, however, protects the company from a ban on federal contract bidding.

While an SNC-Lavalin spokesman said the Quebec ban presents short-term risks, the company’s shift away from large construction contracts to core engineering services minimizes the potential damage of the five-year ban.


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