London-based Amec Foster Wheeler plc. has recruited its new CEO—a petroleum geologist and top executive at Halliburton Co. Inc., in Houston, the firm announced in an April 27 trading update. Jonathan "Jon" Lewis is set to start in his new role on June 1, replacing Samir Brikho who resigned suddenly in January amid fallout from the collapsing oil-and-gas market.

Jonathan "Jon" Lewis
Jonathan Lewis

Lewis, 54,  now is a Halliburton senior vice president and executive committee member responsible for its largest division, called completion & production. He joined the company in 1996 and has dual U.S. and U.K. nationality. He will be based in London with a salary of about $1.1 million plus potential bonuses.

Amec Foster Wheeler Chairman John Connolly said that at Halliburton, Lewis “built a reputation for safe and ethical operations, strategic market insight, strong leadership, commercial discipline and consistently delivered against commitments.”

Lewis will join the firm as it moves to further stabilize its business amid declining oil prices that hit its core markets. It employs 40,000 in more than 55 countries with 2015 sales of $8 billion in oil and gas, energy and other industrial and infrastructure sectors.

Brikho, who was CEO for nine years, was instrumental in AMEC's 2014 acquisition of US-based Foster Wheeler. Amec Foster Wheeler is a major participant in growing clean energy sectors, such as its engineering and technology research work on the ITER fusion reactor being built in the South of France.

But the combined firm's share value fell by nearly 50% in January after he announced a cut in dividend payment by half last November, its lowest in five years, and a lowered profit forecast.

For its 2016 first quarter that ended March 31, AMEC Foster Wheeler reported a 1.5% fall in revenue to $1.9 billion, with backlog off 3% to $ 9.3 billion.

Interim CEO Ian McHoul, who will remain as chief financial officer, said the firm now forecasts “only slight like-for-like revenue decline, with a reduction in trading margins for the year significantly less than the decline in 2015.” He noted some offset from improvements in the firm's environment and infrastructure sectors.

“We are well-placed to tackle the challenging market conditions which continue in many areas of our operations,” said McHoul.

He added that the firm is "making good progress" in finding a buyer for its global power group, which was put up for sale earlier this year. That group designs, builds and maintains boilers, steam generators and pollution equipment used in the energy sector. The firm is in negotiations with a number of interested buyers and he said he was "confident" it would complete the sale in the second half of the year.

McHoul added that "other businesses/assets that have been identified as non-core are also being prepared for sale."