WHILE munching on a lunchtime sandwich, Wood Group chief govt Robin Watson factors to an image of a block of council flats in Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula that he has on his pill laptop.
“I’ll present you one thing. That’s the place I used to be introduced up within the prime left flat,” declares Mr Watson who has simply master-minded the oil providers large’s £2.2 billion takeover of Amec Foster Wheeler.
The deal made Aberdeen-based Wood one of many greatest engineering companies within the UK, however Glasgow-born Mr Watson seems eager to minimize options he’s an enormous shot.
“I’m very grounded by way of normality and the truth of what the world’s like.”
The reference to his background types a part of a retort to options Wood has not performed honest by all stakeholders in its response to the downturn that has hobbled the important thing North Sea market since 2014.
Cuts in spending by oil and gasoline companies because the crude worth began tumbling in that yr have taken a heavy toll on Wood, which helps develop and run offshore services.
The deep cost-cutting programme initiated by Wood in response has resulted in additional than 2,000 job losses within the UK, and round 15,000 globally.
While Wood has elevated dividend funds according to commitments to buyers, Mr Watson insists the job cuts have been important.
“I don’t earn any medals from retaining a head rely that we will’t maintain as a result of exercise has fallen off after which we get taken over and if we get taken over by somebody who’s rather more hostile than us …”
The course of has been painful nonetheless.
“Is it tough to make individuals redundant? Folks say you guys are skilled you recognize what you’re doing and it should get simpler. We’ve laid off 15,000 individuals, on the finish of the day that’s 15,000 husbands, wives, fathers, daughters.
“The minute you don’t really feel something on this type of downturn it’s best to actually stroll away from it.”
Mr Watson, 50, notes he has been topic to the pay freeze initiated below the fee reducing drive.
While his transfer into the highest job at Wood in January 2016 adopted years spent in govt positions, the engineering veteran stresses he has labored his method up from the underside.
He entered the oil and gasoline business in his twenties after becoming a member of the service provider navy as a cadet from college and has spent loads of time on rigs offshore.
“I believe one of many issues that stood me in good stead was a superb upbringing that made me work laborious and attempt to get on.”
Mr Watson reckons Wood Group can also be grounded. He seems decided its tradition won’t change following the mixing of the sprawling Amec Foster Wheeler enterprise. This was run from London, the place some have dismissed Wood as a Scottish pretender with concepts above its station.
“We really feel the model and company tradition we’ve obtained is one thing we have to retain and maintain proper throughout the newly fashioned organisation.”
The firm solely made its audacious transfer on Amec Foster Wheeler after discovering appropriate bolt-on acquisitions have been in brief provide.
Amec Foster Wheeler was chosen following an evaluation of a variety of targets by a crew charged with arising with a transformational acquisition.
There was some opportunism concerned.
The timing of the bid mirrored administrators’ perception that Amec Foster Wheeler would face challenges successful help for the rights challenge it deliberate to finish to take the stress off its stability sheet.
While Mr Watson was decided Wood ought to take management of the enlarged enterprise, the phrases of the deal have been agreed pretty rapidly. This adopted an preliminary strategy by Wood’s chairman Ian Marchant to his reverse quantity John Connolly.
Mr Watson’s enthusiasm for the acquisition mirrored the assumption Wood wanted to cut back its dependence on the North Sea, which he has held since becoming a member of its board in 2013.
The dad of three notes that the North Sea is a mature basin and markets corresponding to US shale provide brighter development prospects. Wood’s work off the UK left it closely reliant on a comparatively small variety of purchasers.
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