WSP Global op­ti­mistic in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing will im­prove bot­tom line

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - ROSS MAROWITS

MON­TREAL WSP Global an­tic­i­pates the roll­out of fed­eral in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing will help Canada over­come on­go­ing chal­lenges in the oil­patch over the next few years, the en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tant’s CEO said Wed­nes­day.

“I’m op­ti­mistic about the longterm out­look of Canada, but we just need to be pa­tient,” Alexan­dre L’Heureux said fol­low­ing the com­pany’s an­nual meet­ing, where it un­veiled a new global logo.

Mon­treal-based WSP Global has shed hun­dreds of Cana­dian jobs dur­ing three years of slow­down, caused in large part to eco­nomic weak­ness in West­ern Canada’s oil and gas sec­tor.

Em­ploy­ment has in­creased over the past year in Que­bec and On­tario, with more jobs to be added as the econ­omy con­tin­ues to re­cover.

The Lib­er­als plan to spend $81.2 bil­lion on their in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram over the next 11 years, in­clud­ing $35 bil­lion ear­marked for the in­fra­struc­ture bank.

WSP Global re­cently se­cured a con­tract for a Metro Line ex­pan­sion project in Ed­mon­ton, its first from fed­eral in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing.

“We do feel that per­haps some mo­men­tum will build in the coun­try and we’ll see again a pickup in the ac­tiv­ity in in­fra­struc­ture in the com­ing years,” L’Heureux said.

WSP Global, among the world’s largest en­gi­neer­ing firms, said it is await­ing word on other large con­tracts, in­clud­ing light rail train projects in Mon­treal and Ot­tawa and the Roberts Bank port ter­mi­nal ex­pan­sion in Van­cou­ver.

L’Heureux said this year will be busy for bid­ding for fu­ture work.

The com­pany ex­pects to com­plete more ac­qui­si­tions in the com­ing year that will al­low it to achieve its strate­gic plan to reach 45,000 global em­ploy­ees and $6 bil­lion in an­nual net rev­enues by the end of next year. It has 36,000 em­ploy­ees and $4.9 bil­lion in rev­enues.

The com­pany got off to a strong start to the year by re­port­ing a big boost to prof­its and rev­enues.

It earned $47.6 mil­lion for the pe­riod ended April 1, up from $27.6 mil­lion a year ear­lier. Ad­justed net in­come was $49.8 mil­lion, up from $33.1 mil­lion a year ago.

Net rev­enues were $1.28 bil­lion, up 10 per cent, but only four per cent ex­clud­ing the ex­tra num­ber of work­ing days in the quar­ter.

L’Heureux said the com­pany has a strong po­si­tion in Bri­tain that will al­low it to weather the im­pact from Brexit. Busi­ness in the pri­vate com­mer­cial sec­tor had slowed a cou­ple of months ago, but there is a bit more op­ti­mism in the past four to six weeks.

We do feel that per­haps some mo­men­tum will build in the coun­try and we’ll see again a pickup in the ac­tiv­ity in in­fra­struc­ture in the com­ing years.

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