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Fugro Plunges as Chairman Resigns, Forecast Cut: Amsterdam Mover

Fugro NV slumped the most in more than four years in Amsterdam trading after its management board chairman resigned and the world’s biggest surveyor of deepwater oilfields cut its full-year profit forecast.

Fugro plunged 14 percent, the steepest one-day decline since October 2008. Chairman Arnold Steenbakker will step down because of a “difference of opinion” regarding the future of the company, according to a statement on Nov. 16.

Fugro, which agreed in September to sell its seismic unit for 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in cash, said profit after tax will fall to about 280 million euros this year from 288 million euros in 2011. It expects a weak fleet utilization in the fourth quarter. The company earlier estimated that profit would rise to at least 310 million euros.

Steenbakker’s departure “is the really concerning news, possibly indicating a board-level conflict on how to go further with Fugro,” Quirijn Mulder, an Amsterdam-based analyst at ING Groep NV, wrote in a note to investors. “We believe Steenbakker had clear ideas on how to cope with some weaknesses in the Fugro organization,” said Mulder, who rates Fugro a buy.

Fugro fell 6.995 euros to 42.135 euros, valuing the company at 3.49 billion euros.

Paul van Riel, named Steenbakker’s successor, said on a conference call that there’s no connection between the seismic division’s sale and the resignation. He declined to comment further on why Steenbakker, who became chairman in January, stepped down and said current management share the same view on Fugro’s future.

Fugro, which operates in more than 50 countries, said Sept. 24 it plans to sell the seismic division, which maps the likely location of oilfields, because it lacks a market-leading position and earnings have been volatile.

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