Aecon pulls out of Gordie Howe bridge bidding: Unrelated to CCCC takeover, says CEO

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Gordie Howe Bridge
Rendering of the Gordie Howe Bridge

Aecon Group Inc., which is waiting for regulatory approval before it is acquired by a Chinese-government owned construction business, has withdrawn from a group bidding on the Gordie Howe Bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit — but it says the decision to pull out of the bridge project has nothing to do with the take-over.

Aecon chief executive officer John Beck said in published interviews that the decision to withdraw from bidding on the bridge is unrelated to the proposed $1.2 billion takeover by China Communications Construction Co. Ltd (CCCC). The Canadian government is reviewing the takeover deal for security reasons.

Beck Aecon is too busy to get the project off the ground in the timeframe wanted, Bloomberg News has reported.

“We have been bidding on a lot of work over the last year, and we’ve won our share — maybe more than our share,” Beck said in a telephone interview.

Aecon has won several contracts in recent months that will strap its resources, he said, including contracts to build the Site C Project — a hydroelectric dam and generating station in British Columbia — as well as a contract to help build Montreal’s $6.3 billion Réseau express métropolitain network. Last month, it also won a contract to build the Finch West Light Rail Transit project in Toronto.

“We’ve picked up, in our share of those contracts, over $2 billion of business. We already have $4 billion worth of backlog,” he was quoted as saying. “Not only do we have to execute them but we also have to start them all up over the next few months,” he said. “Our resources are very substantial, they’re very deep, but they’re going to be very busy with these projects.”

He said construction on the Gordie Howe bridge is expected to start a month after the contract is awarded. “It was decision based on the practical aspects, the resource aspects, and the commercial aspects. We felt we should bow out,” he said.

Beck said that the decision had nothing to with the proposed takeover, which is currently the subject of a review under the Investment Canada Act.

“It doesn’t relate at all. I understand why some people may want to interpret that. But that’s not the case,” he said. “There are Chinese companies that operate in the United States right now. It’s not like they’re not welcome. They’re there.”

Beck said he expected that review to be completed by the end of the second quarter.

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