October 27, 2016 / 6:15 AM / 3 years ago

CEO of engineering firm Arcadis quits after profit fall

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The chief executive of Arcadis (ARDS.AS) stepped down on Thursday over what the board called a difference of opinion about the Dutch engineering firm’s future following a sharp fall in earnings.

Neil McArthur, one year into a second four-year term, will be temporarily replaced by Chief Financial Officer Renier Vree, the company said in a trading update.

“Neil and the supervisory board have agreed that it is the right time for a new leader to take Arcadis forward,” it said in a statement. The mutual decision resulted from “a difference of opinion on Arcadis’ path moving forward”.

The search for a candidate to fill the top post will begin immediately “internally and externally”, it added.

McArthur will leave immediately with a year’s salary of 630,000 euros ($687,600). No details were provided about the disagreement with the supervisory board.

Arcadis shares plunged more than 11 percent in early Amsterdam trading, taking losses this year to about 36 percent.

The company reported a 34 percent fall in third-quarter operating income before interest, taxation and depreciation (EBITA) to 43.3 million euros. Analysts had expected a fall of 30 percent, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

Revenue fell 7 percent to 797 million euros, also below expectations.

Arcadis said the quarter was hurt by weakness in emerging markets, declining revenue in North America, which makes up a third of the group total, and a slowdown in Brazil, Singapore and Hong Kong.

It also blamed a sharp fall in sterling and the impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union what has been “felt in UK business price pressure.” About 17 percent of Arcadis’ revenue comes from Britain.

Arcadis said it “expects similar business conditions in the fourth quarter as experienced in the previous quarters of 2016.”

It said it had cut 800 full-time jobs by the end of the third quarter, reducing labour costs by approximately 3 percent, and had “accelerated initiatives to improve financial performance”.

It reported an end-September project backlog of 2.2 billion euros, down 3 percent from December 2015, reflecting cancellations in Brazil, Qatar and China.

The overall backlog in emerging markets declined 17 percent but rose by 11 percent in Britain and 6 percent in continental Europe and North America.

($1 = 0.9172 euros)

Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter

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