Eiffage Founder Roverato Becomes Chairman After CEO Dies

  • Roverato Created Construction Company in 1992 Through Merger
  • Max Roche Becomes CEO; Was Deputy CEO, CFO Previously

Eiffage SA, France’s third-largest construction company, named founder Jean-Francois Roverato as chairman and Max Roche as chief executive officer to temporarily succeed Pierre Berger, who died last week from a heart attack at the age of 47.

The company wants to find a successor for both positions by the end of February, Velizy-Villacoublay, France-based Eiffage said in a statement Monday following a board meeting. Berger had succeeded Roverato as CEO in 2011 and as chairman the following year. Roche, 62, has been deputy CEO of the highway operator since June 2011 and was previously chief financial officer.

Berger had a heart attack at his home during the night of Oct. 22, leaving behind his wife and three children. Following news of his death, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the executive a “towering figure respected by the construction industry.”

Roverato, 71, created Eiffage through the 1992 merger of Fougerolle and SAE and remained at the helm until he poached Berger from bigger rival Vinci SA. Berger had trimmed debt and started to reduce the group’s reliance on the French construction and infrastructure markets by acquiring small companies in Belgium, Canada and Columbia. He had also made Africa one of the group’s priorities for development.

Roverato and Roche will be under pressure to ensure the group’s profit margins continue to improve, a trend that began under Berger through cost cuts and a recovery in traffic on French toll roads.

Eiffage, which had 14 billion euros ($15.4 billion) of sales in 2014 and improved profit, predicted in August increased profit and a slight decline in revenue this year. Shares of the company were up 0.2 percent, trading at 56.52 euros at 1:20 p.m. in Paris. They have climbed 34 percent this year.

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