Ray O’Rourke to step down as group succession plan unveiled

Laing O’Rourke founder, majority shareholder and group CEO Ray O’Rourke KBE will step down from the group chief executive’s position in September 2022.

Ray O'Rourke to step down as group succession plan unveiled

Ray O'Rourke

Almost 45 years after Ray, with his brother Des, began business with a single £2500 concrete structures project, he will join Des as a deputy chairman of the group, and continue his focus on innovation, people development and major clients.

Seamus French, the current CEO of Anglo American’s Bulk Commodities and Other Minerals division, will join the leadership team in January 2022; 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 facilitate an orderly CEO handover from Ray to Seamus following the delivery of the FY22 (April 2021 - March 2022) trading period, audit and accounts. Seamus will then be Group CEO and Europe Hub MD.

Seamus has already spent 18 months with the group as a non-executive director, witnessing first-hand the improving performance of the business. He understands the discipline of the unique operating model and the development of Laing O’Rourke’s longer-term strategy, and has formed connections across the leadership team.

Commenting on his appointment as Europe managing director and CEO-designate, Seamus 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.”

From 2022 the Group Board will comprise:

  • Sir John Parker GBE FREng – chairman
  • Ray O’Rourke KBE – deputy chairman
  • Des O’Rourke – deputy chairman
  • Cathal O’Rourke – non-executive director
  • Seamus French – CEO designate
  • Rowan Baker – chief financial officer
  • Jim Edmondson – company secretary
  • Greg Branch – non-executive director
  • Charlotte Valeur – non-executive director
  • Additional non-executive director position – under consideration

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