Two Canadian engineering giants are headed in starkly different directions

 

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. saw its stocks tumble 27 per cent on Monday after its CEO announced that ongoing diplomatic tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia were hurting business, on top of problems with a mining project and an arbitration loss in Australia. SNC-Lavalin President and CEO Neil Bruce addresses shareholders at the company's annual general meeting in Montreal, Thursday, May 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Quebec’s two largest engineering firms find themselves in very different places in early 2019, as one fights to retain a toehold in a crucial Middle Eastern market while the other grows by leaps and bounds.

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. saw its stock tumble more than 27 per cent on Monday after it said that ongoing diplomatic tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia were hurting its business, on top of problems with a mining project and an arbitration loss in Australia.

WSP Global Inc., on the other hand, unveiled a sunny strategic plan Wednesday that forecasts double-digit revenue growth through 2021, when it expects to rake in up to $9 billion. The forecast boosted WSP’s share price six per cent to $68.04 in midday trading.

The Montreal-based company has swelled to 48,000 employees from 17,000 in 2014, and aims to exceed SNC with 65,000 workers in the next three years.

Beefed up by acquisitions of companies such as New York-based infrastructure firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, WSP’s expansion plans do not mean overextending their leverage levels, RBC Dominion Securities analyst Derek Spronck says.

While both companies have seen their reputations tainted by corruption, particularly in Quebec, SNC has a bigger cloud over its head. Its shares fell in October after the company revealed the federal government won’t grant SNC an out-of-court settlement over foreign bribery allegations linked to the regime of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The Canadian Press

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