Tuesday 12 February 2019 11:59 am

Troubled outsourcer Kier’s share price rises as it appoints Scottish director

Shares ticked upwards at embattled construction outsourcer Kier this morning as it announced a new operations director in Scotland.

Phil McDowell, who joined the contractor as a contract manager in 2013, will take control of the firm’s work north of the border.

Read more: Kier defies woes with £37m high-rise contract win

Shares were up 2.4 per cent in morning trading to 501.5p.

Kier's share price has suffered a steady two-year decline over concerns around mounting debt that led to an abrupt drop in December after a botched rights issue.

The outsourcer was last month accused of trying to suppress a report in the inquiry into a major fire at Glasgow School of Art last summer by Scottish MSPs.

‚ÄčKier was already renovating the site after an earlier fire in 2014, but the contract was terminated in the weeks after the blaze last year.

The company has been preoccupied with its own firefighting efforts in recent months, after a botched rights issue ultimately led to the departure of its chief executive Haydn Mursell last month.

Mursell was the target of a campaign to oust senior management, spearheaded by veteran investor and 15 per cent shareholder Neil Woodford.

Shareholders were unhappy with the handling of mounting debt at the firm, which had seen share prices plummet. Then, when Kier tried to pay off this debt by giving existing investors the chance to buy new, discounted stock, only 37.7 per cent of the new shares were bought up.

Read more: Timeline: Where did it all go wrong for Kier?

On McDowell’s appointment, Brian McQuade, managing director of Kier Construction Scotland and North East said: “Phil’s talents were recognised through his ability to effectively deliver key projects in a collaborative manner with external and internal stakeholders. He is a huge asset, not only to Kier Construction, but to the various clients, consultants and suppliers that he works in partnership with.”

Kier’s search for a new chief executive continues.