Sector News

Fluor plans to raise more than $1 billion from divestments, reduce workforce

September 25, 2019
Chemical Value Chain

Fluor Corp. said today that following a strategic review, the company has decided to divest select businesses in a move designed to simultaneously improve the financial stability of the company and allow the remaining businesses to refocus on engineering, construction, and maintenance services in core markets. Fluor is initiating plans to sell its construction equipment rental company AMECO and its government business, and to monetize surplus real estate and noncore investments. The company anticipates these actions to generate in excess of $1 billion in aggregate proceeds. In addition, the company plans to reduce its quarterly dividend to $0.10 per share beginning with the next quarterly dividend declaration.

The strategic review evaluated the entire portfolio of businesses including Stork, COOEC–Fluor Heavy Industries, and NuScale. The company has taken deliberate and constructive action on these investments. Stork continues to implement its restructuring plan and is expected to emerge as a stronger and more profitable business in early 2020. The company is in discussions with its COOEC–Fluor Heavy Industries partner to improve the financial performance of the fabrication yard. NuScale has the only small modular reactor (SMR) technology being reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and expects final approval of its SMR by the end of 2020. Commitments from new investors Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction and Sargent & Lundy, subject to regulatory approval, are expected to allow the funding of NuScale activities for the remainder of this year. Recent milestones achieved by NuScale have generated additional investor interest that is expected to offset 2020 funding requirements.

“Together with our board of directors and outside advisors, we took an extensive and comprehensive look at our broader business to determine the best strategic path to return the company to consistent profitable growth,” said Carlos Hernandez, CEO of Fluor. “The strategic direction we are pursuing as a result of this process builds upon Fluor’s premier competitive position in our core markets in which we expect to deliver sustainable growth, strong cash flow and attractive returns to investors.”

Fluor anticipates these actions will generate long-term value to shareholders through its best-in-class expertise in all aspects of project execution while using a disciplined project and portfolio risk management approach. This renewed focus should result in a strengthening of the balance sheet, improving the company’s credit rating and ensuring adequate liquidity for ongoing operations, the company says.

The results of the operational review led to key leadership changes, the development of improved pursuit criteria, and a new organizational structure. The company will shift to a model in which business groups have direct control over the functions that support operations. These actions are expected to improve the speed of decision making and drive greater accountability within the businesses. As a result of these and other changes, the company anticipates overhead reductions of $100 million.

Fluor continues to reinforce recently revised project pursuit criteria for all businesses. The energy and chemicals segment will pursue lump-sum work only when there is a limited bid slate and there is a quantifiable advantage over other bidders or where it is a sole-source negotiated agreement. Fluor will only bid on lump-sum projects where it executed the front-end engineering and design package or has the opportunity to perform sufficient diligence.

The mining, metals, and industrial segment will continue to pursue predominantly reimbursable work applying the revised project pursuit criteria. The infrastructure segment will focus efforts in North America and continue to extend its presence in states where there is an established track record and strong department of transportation relationships including Texas, Arizona, California, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Government segment will no longer pursue fixed-price projects. In all cases, risk projects will be subject to an initial bid/no-bid approval followed by final approval by the Fluor executive team. This increased focus on selectivity will change the prospect pipeline profile and drive the company to a backlog and execution platform that can deliver consistent results, Fluor says. Lazard is serving as an advisor to Fluor Corporation.

The announcement by Fluor, the largest E&C player in the energy and chemicals markets, is the latest in a number of changes now under way in the industry, all with a view to improve performance. McDermott is divesting Lummus Technology and TechnipFMC plans to split into two independent companies.

By Natasha Alperowicz

Source: Chemical Week

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