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Kier begin the search for new boss as chief executive steps down

Construction firm Kier Group has said its chief executive Haydn Mursell, will stand down with immediate effect.

While the hunt goes on for Mursell’s successor, Kier has confirmed chairman Philip Cox will act as executive chairman, working with finance director Bev Dew and chief operating officer Claudio Veritiero.

Mursell took over as group CEO in 2014, having been with the construction firm for four years, previously serving as group finance director. He leaves on the same day that the board announced it was on course to meet its expectations for the 2019 full year results.

The departure comes after a troubling few months for Kier after only a third of shareholders backed its £250m cash call in November. The proceeds of the rights issue were intended to be used to pay down existing debts. 

But after at least five major firms backed the cash call, Mursell claimed Kier entered 2019 “with a strong balance sheet which puts us in an excellent competitive position".

A trading update published today also revealed average month-end net debt of around £370m - an improvement on the £410m for the six months ended 30 June 2018.

To instil more confidence in the company’s future, the update also provided examples of recent key contracts it had landed, while boasting an order book of more than £10bn.

Contracts include: 

  • The renewal of a three-year c.£70m utility services contract in the south west of England;
  • Over £500m of regional building projects secured during November and December, including a major office development for Argent at King's Cross in London, a new research facility for the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, a flagship development for the Royal College of Art and a new hospital for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Appointed to three lots on the North West Construction Hub three-year £1.5bn framework.

Commenting on the Mursell’s departure, Cox said: "The board believes that, following the completion of the recent rights issue, now is the right time for a new leader to take Kier forward to the next stage of its development. The board would like to thank Haydn for his contribution during eight years on the board, firstly as finance director and then as chief executive. On behalf of the board, I would like to wish him every success in the future."