Finning to cut up to 500 extra jobs this year, chairman steps down

Canada's Finning International (TSX:FTT), the world’s largest dealer of Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) mining and construction equipment, announced Thursday it plans to cut 400 to 500 jobs by the middle of the year.

The layoffs are on top of the 1,900 positions Finning decided to axe last year, said the company, as it posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit.

In November, the Vancouver-based firm closed down 11 facilities in Western Canada, in addition to previously announced 16 closures, to cut costs.

The heavy equipment dealer also said its current chairman, Doug Whitehead, will leave the post at the next annual general meeting in May.

Finning, which also operates in South America and the UK, posted a net loss of Cdn$309 million ($225.75 million), or Cdn$1.82 per share, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of Cdn$107 million, or 62 cents, a year earlier.

Separately, the heavy equipment dealer announced a board reshuffle that will see its current chairman, Doug Whitehead, leave the post at the next annual general meeting in May. He will be replaced by Mike Wilson.

Whitehead, who has been Finning’s chairman since 2008 and a member of the board since 1999, will remain as a director, subject to his re-election to the board at the AGM.

Shares in the company were down almost 6% to $17.56 in Toronto at 11:27 am ET. In the past year, Finning has lost over 25% of its market value.

As most of its peers and heavy equipment makers, Finning has been severely hit by persistently weak commodity prices that have resulted in mining companies worldwide spending less on equipment and services.