Vinci Won’t Touch Trump’s Wall to Avoid Antagonizing Employees

  • CEO Xavier Huillard told French radio that project would shock
  • French minister has urged companies to think twice about wall

Vinci SA Chief Executive Officer Xavier Huillard said Europe’s largest builder will opt out of participating in the construction of President Donald Trump’s wall along the Mexican border to avoid alienating employees.

“I have to take into account the reality of my company, my culture, my way of doing things and the sensitivities of not only my American colleagues but also sensitivities of my colleagues around the world,” the CEO said in a BFM radio interview on Tuesday. “For these reasons, and it’s not a judgment of values of the U.S. or the wall, we prefer not to touch this wall.”

Vinci, a French company with offices across the U.S. following a series of acquisitions, operates bridges and a tunnel over the Ohio River and has won contracts to develop highways in Florida and North and South Carolina. Huillard’s comments follow those of French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who urged companies to have a “sense of social and environmental responsibility” with regards to the wall project, and President Francois Hollande, who urged caution.

“If we decide to do something that runs the risk of shocking the majority of our employees, I think it should be avoided,” Huillard said in the radio interview. “I’m not giving lessons to anyone, but I’m taking into account our culture, our way of doing things and I think we can’t do everything.”

Vinci is among European building materials suppliers like LafargeHolcim Ltd. and HeidelbergCement AG expected to gain from U.S. projects even as the planned wall with Mexico elicits controversy. The French company has said it expects growth from the “massive investment” pledged by the Trump administration.

“I see the profound unease this project causes in Mexico,” Ayrault said in an interview on France Info radio after being asked about LafargeHolcim interest in selling cement for the wall. He said there is a no law to stop the sale, but “the company should think.”

— With assistance by Helene Fouquet

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