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Harland and Wolff goes on the hunt for new chairman

© Wullie Marr / DCT MediaHarland and Wolff yard at Methill, Fife
Harland and Wolff yard at Methill, Fife

The owner of fabrication yards in Arnish on Lewis and Methil, Fife has launched a search for a new chairman after the company announced the current incumbent was stepping down from the role.

Harland and Wolff, which bought its two sites in Scotland from administrators earlier this year, said its non-executive chairman Clive Richardson would leave firm at the end of his notice period in mid-December to “focus on other activities to which he is already committed”.

Volume of work ahead

In a statement the company said it was involved with a number of “large complex bids” and “multiple” negotiations this year and beyond, and that Mr Richardson chose to part ways with the firm due to the “volume of work and related time investment required of the management team and of the broader board of directors … to bring these contracts to fruition”.

The company recently said its sales pipeline now stands at £7.8billion (on an unweighted basis) or £1.8bn (weighted).

Mr Richardson joined the board of Infrastrata (LSE: HARL – 18.25p) in January 2020, bringing decades of experience with him including stints at QinetiQ Ventures and BAE Systems, and was most recently group CEO of V. Group, one of the world’s largest providers of commercial ship management services.

Earlier this month, Infrastrata announced it was changing its name to Harland & Wolff Group Holdings plc both at Companies House and for its listing on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim), to “better reflect its ambition in expanding its core business and the significant development of its shipbuilding and fabrication activities”. Harland and Wolff, which Infrastrata acquired in in 2019, is best known as the shipyard in Belfast which built the Titanic.

The company said its non-executive director Malcolm Groat, a chartered accountant, would act as interim chairman as it searched for a replacement for Mr Richardson, adding that  a “formal process to appoint a successor has been initiated”.

© Supplied by Harland and Wolff
InfraStrata previously said that more than 400 new jobs could be created at the Arnish site

Strengthening the board

Harland and Wolff added its recent appointment of Sir Jonathan Band, a former First Sea Lord and chief of naval staff of the Royal Navy, was a part of its plan to strengthen the board and that further announcements would be made “in due course”.

John Wood, group CEO said: “The board and I wish to place our thanks to Clive for his invaluable contribution to the company’s business.

“He has successfully steered the company through the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic and has overseen the acquisitions of Harland & Wolff (Appledore) and Harland & Wolff (Methil) & (Arnish) in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

“I warmly welcome Malcolm as our interim chairman, who is equally adept at navigating the journeys of high growth AIM companies. I look forward to working closely with Malcolm as we embark upon the next stage in the company’s growth.”

In February the group snapped up the assets of Burntisland Fabrication at Arnish and Methil in a £850,000 deal. Its owner had collapsed after failing to win a contract to fabricate windfarm jackets for the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm. Since Harland and Wolff acquired the site in Methil, it was successful in a bid to manufacturer jackets for NnG for contractor Saipem.

The company, formerly Portland Gas, demerged from Egdon Resources, the UK onshore-focused oil and gas exploration and production business, in 2008. It also owns owns the Islandmagee gas storage project in Northern Ireland.

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