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Fri July 19 2024

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Ray O’Rourke steps down

24 Jun After five decades at the helm, Laing O’Rourke’s founder, chairman and majority shareholder Ray O’Rourke has decided to step down.

Ray O'Rourke
Ray O'Rourke

The Laing O’Rourke the Board has unanimously approved the appointment of Ray’s son Cathal O’Rourke as the new group chief executive as of 1st July 2024.

Cathal O’Rourke, 47, is a graduate civil engineer, who has served in various operational and leadership roles across the group, including a stint as managing director in Australia and most recently group chief operating officer.

After emigrating from Ireland to England in the 1960s, Ray O’Rourke founded R O'Rourke & Son in 1977 in east London as a regional formwork and concrete specialist. In September 2001 he acquired main contractor Laing Construction from John Laing plc for £1.

In 2011 he received an honorary knighthood in recognition of his services to the UK construction industry.

Laing O'Rourke’s most recent accounts, for the year to 31st March 2023 showed turnover of £3.4bn but a pre-tax loss of £288m.

Ray O’Rourke, 77, will continue to serve on the group board as a deputy chair, alongside his brother and co-owner Des. He will chair the board nomination committee, drive innovation in construction methods, and be available to the new chief executive to meet with key customers and stakeholders and to provide mentoring and advice.

Cathal O'Rourke said: “I am truly honoured to be trusted with the leadership of our business and our people, and I am committed to continuing to work with our clients, delivery partners and all other stakeholders to lead positive change.

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“Together we can continue to drive forward on our mission to transform our sector into a more sustainable and productive industry, embracing new and innovative ways of doing things, whilst at the same time, providing our people with safe, challenging and rewarding careers.”

Cathal O'Rourke
Cathal O'Rourke

Ray O’Rourke said: “I am delighted to be in a position to hand over the reins of CEO to my son and our Group COO, Cathal O’Rourke. I am incredibly proud of our people and what we have achieved as a business.

“We have maintained a commitment to transform our industry, and our people are recognised for their ability to deliver complex engineering projects using advanced and sophisticated techniques across the globe.

“Cathal has enjoyed a successful career in our family business, spanning a quarter of a century and I have every confidence he will continue to lead our people well into the future, upholding the values and guiding principles that have been the foundation of our success.”

Laing O'Rourke chair Sir John Parker said: “At this time of major transition in the leadership of the group we are fortunate to have such a well-qualified and talented successor to Ray in Cathal. The board has every confidence in Cathal’s leadership qualities, accumulated experience, his commitment to modernising the industry and his alignment with Laing O’Rourke’s values of care, integrity, and courage.

“We salute the unique creativity of Ray’s leadership in building the group and its culture that we know today. We are fortunate that he will continue to serve providing ongoing guidance and mentorship.”

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