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SNC-Lavalin stock falls after credit downgrade, political controversy

The downgrade comes with the company already in the crosshairs of a political controversy and on the brink of a criminal trial on corruption charges connected to business dealings in Libya.
The downgrade comes with the company already in the crosshairs of a political controversy and on the brink of a criminal trial on corruption charges connected to business dealings in Libya. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.’s stock fell again after Standard & Poor’s downgraded its credit rating to junk status.

Shares in the engineering giant closed down 24 cents or 1.4 per cent to $16.90 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, after falling as low as $16.62 in initial trading.

READ MORE: Ethics committee to meet to decide whether to dig deeper into SNC-Lavalin report

Standard & Poor’s cut SNC-Lavalin’s rating to double-B-plus from triple-B-minus on Monday, which could make it costlier for the firm to borrow money. The bond-rating agency pointed to “significant losses” on fixed-price contracts and “uncertainty in the company’s ability to recover earnings and cash flow.”

The downgrade comes with the company already in the crosshairs of a political controversy and on the brink of a criminal trial on corruption charges connected to business dealings in Libya.

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Earlier this summer, SNC moved to a pared-down strategy focused on engineering work rather than large, lump-sum construction contracts in which it has to eat any additional costs. Standard & Poor’s wondered if the change would affect SNC’s engineering business.

READ MORE: Liberals, Tories essentially tied after damning SNC-Lavalin ethics report: Ipsos

The agency also highlighted a slowing global economy and “unresolved legal issues” as potential risks.

Shares in SNC, which also remains in the eye of a political storm in Ottawa that escalated with last week’s ethics commissioner report, have hit successive 15-year-lows since it reported losses of $2.12 billion on Aug. 1.

The Quebec company has reported losses for three quarters straight and slashed its financial forecast three times since January, when its market capitalization stood at roughly three times its current value, now at roughly $2.93 billion.

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Several Supreme Court justices consulted about SNC case
Several Supreme Court justices consulted about SNC case