London, UK,

Fishing where the fish are

Ian McHoul, Chief Financial Officer

Since we reported our first half results on 27 August myself and the senior management team have been seeing investors telling them of our plans and answering their questions about our business.

A key priority was to ensure investors realised that at Amec Foster Wheeler has a plan to succeed in this environment. To use a metaphor, “we are not just sitting around with a single rod, waiting for the fish to come to us…”

Investors are focusing on two elements more than anything else.

First: how are we, and how are our customers, dealing with the lower commodity prices?

This is an area where investors expected us to stand out – we are already a fairly lean and efficient organisation, and the integration benefits of putting together AMEC and Foster Wheeler are starting to come through – and will make a significant contribution to profits from next year. Moreover, we have a great track record of supporting our customers in this kind of environment – for instance doing more work to increase efficiency of existing assets, rather than relying on new build projects – which can be much harder to justify at the moment.

Second: why are we so confident we can keep growing in such tough conditions? 

I believe this is one area where we have a really positive story to tell – and it is setting us apart from our peers. Our business spans many types of service, many markets, many countries and many types of customers… we are able to weather those tough markets because we also have several very exciting opportunities – for instance in petchem and Clean Energy, especially solar.

With the oil price down by more than 50% in a year, and our share price down 20% since the deal closed, in some ways we are in the middle of a perfect storm. But I was encouraged that so many investors recognise our range of services and access to such diverse markets means our ship is still sea-worthy, and our net is strong enough to catch the fish that are still swimming.

Meet the blogger

Ian McHoulIan qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in 1984. His early career was spent in the brewing industry. Between 1985 and 1995 he held various positions with the Foster’s Brewing Group, including General Manager, Strategy. He was Finance & Strategy Director of the Inntrepreneur Pub Company Limited from 1995 to 1998 and then served at Scottish & Newcastle plc from 1998 to 2008, first as Finance Director of Scottish Courage and later as Group Finance Director of Scottish & Newcastle plc. Ian holds a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Bristol.

Term of office
Ian was appointed Chief Financial Officer on 8 September 2008 and has no fixed term of office. His service contract is terminable on six and twelve months’ notice by him and the company respectively.

External appointments
Ian has been a non-executive director of Britvic plc since March 2014 and was a non-executive director of Premier Foods plc from July 2004 to April 2013.