Monday 17 June 2019 7:30 am

Shares fall as Kier suspends dividend and unveils plan to cut 1,200 jobs

Struggling construction firm Kier has revealed plans to cut 1,200 jobs and strip back its non-core businesses.

The outsourcer said it would sell or “substantially exit” non-core activities, including its housebuilding and facilities management units.

Read more: Kier shares plunge on housebuilding unit sale reports

Its property arm, one of the UK’s largest developers, and its environmental services wing could also be sold.

Shares, which plunged 30 per cent on Friday, fell a further 12 per cent this morning.

Kier expected the programme to deliver annual savings of around £55m.

The company has also suspended dividend payments this year and also in the financial year 2020.

The turnaround programme, which follows a strategic review launched in April, will see the company focus on its infrastructure, utilities, highways and regional building divisions.

Chief executive Andrew Davies said: “These actions are focused on resetting the operational structure of Kier, simplifying the portfolio, and emphasising cash generation in order to structurally reduce debt.

“By making these changes, we will reinforce the foundations from which our core activities can flourish in the future, to the benefit of all of our stakeholders.”

Despite efforts to turnaround its fortunes, Kier said it would report a net debt position on 30 June, having previously forecast it would be in the black.

Analysts at Peel Hunt said the decision to sell off non-core activities was a “positive conclusion” to the strategic review.

But they put its buy rating under review due to “uncertainties” around the net debt position to 30 June.

Shares in the outsourcer plunged more than 30 per cent on Friday on reports it was preparing to sell its housebuilding unit – Kier Living.

The outsourcer, which is listed as one of the government’s top external suppliers of public services has long been struggling with its finances.

Read more: Kier finance boss steps down after year of money worries for construction firm

Earlier this month Kier issued a fresh profit warning, saying its operating profit was expected to  be £25m less than previously forecast.

It also said its “Future Proofing Kier” turnaround programme would come in £15m over its original budget.