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Keller CEO to leave company

Keller chief executive Alain Michaelis is to step down as chief executive and leave the company at the end of the month.

Current chief financial officer Mike Speakman will take over as interim CEO while a permanent replacement is sought, the firm has announced.

In a statement, chairman Peter Hill said Mr Michaelis had made Keller a more integrated organisation and helped to transform its North American business.

He added: “Having provided these foundations for Keller’s future success, Alain has decided now is the right time to step down and allow his successor to lead the next stage of Keller’s development.”

Mr Michaelis took over at the groundworks company in May 2015. Under his tenure the company made a series of acquisitions in North America, including the £120m takeover of Moretrench last year.

Keller derives around half its £2bn turnover from the North American market, and also operates in Europe, Middle East and Africa, as well as the Asia-Pacific region. It claims to be the world’s largest groundworks specialist.

Earlier this year the group reported a 40 per cent slide in profit for the first six months of the year.

The company said the slump in pre-tax profit from £35.9m to £21.7m was down to the completion of two “ultra-high profit” jobs in the previous year and an expectation that the second half of 2019 would be better for the company.

Last year saw the company hit with £57m in exceptional costs due to problems in the Asia-Pacific region. Around 700 jobs were axed as a result.

News of Mr Michaelis’s departure was accompanied by a trading update this morning, which said activity in North America over the last three months had been slower than expected.

Turnover for the whole of 2019 was expected to be flat, but profit would be up, the group said.

The company warned, however, that this was dependent on the outcome of a number of claims and the timing of some large contracts.

Keller’s share price was down around 5 per cent by mid-morning.

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