John Holland announces job cuts and restructuring after $40m loss

John Holland, the Australian contractor owned by the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), has announced jobs cuts and a restructuring of its divisions in the wake of a US$40m loss for 2019.

The company has created a major projects division to handle jobs worth more than $1bn, and has hired former Carillion managing director Mark Davies to run it. Davies had been heading the Balfour Beatty/Vinci joint venture building the UK’s HS2 rail scheme.

It has also made its infrastructure business a single national organisation, rather than splitting it into separate state-based companies. Meanwhile, it will "review" its operations in Southeast Asia, close its Singapore office, and concentrate on delivering existing projects rather than bidding for work.

Most of the 150-200 job losses are expected to be made as a result of the consolidation of the infrastructure arm, with support functions being the hardest hit.

The restructuring follows CCCC’s decision to appoint as chairman Wang Bo, a former vice president of CCCC subsidiary China Harbour Engineering Company.

Joe Barr, John Holland’s chief executive, said in a press statement: "After reporting a loss in 2019, we took steps to address our profitability that included a hiring and wage freeze, the cancellation of executive bonuses and a more strategic approach to the projects we bid for.

"Regrettably, it is clear that this is not enough. We have to heighten our focus on business sustainability. This has been a very hard decision to make, but one that is essential to ensure a strong future."

In March, Barr warned that Australia’s major contractors were "on the brink of collapse" (see further reading).

The Australian Financial Review reports that most of John Holland’s large infrastructure projects in eastern Australia are losing money, including Melbourne’s $4bn West Gate Tunnel and the $7.5bn Metro Tunnel, although the Waterloo Metro City scheme in Sydney (pictured) is understood to be performing well and ahead of schedule.

Image: John Holland’s Waterloo Metro City in Sydney is ahead of schedule (Turf)

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