Record Turkey Bridge Sets the Pace for Its Innovator’s New CEO
Patrick Nagle became CEO of Paris-based Freyssinet International just weeks before the specialty contractor saw the late August debut of the results of one its largest-ever contracts—for design and installation of the record-setting deck and cable-stay system on the $3-billion hybrid cable-stay and suspension Yavuz Sultan Selim road-rail bridge over the Bosporus waterway, north of Istanbul.
Freyssinet says the 2,164-meter-long bridge includes the world’s longest cable-stayed span. At 1,408 meters, it’s 304 m longer than the record holder, Russia’s Russky Island Bridge in Vladivostok.
The Turkish bridge’s heavily loaded, 59-m-wide deck is supported by suspension cables and 176 stays up to 588 m long. Freyssinet S.A. handled the cable system and deck box lifting under a subcontract with the joint venture of South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction and SK E&C, which had the roughly $700-million main turnkey contract.
Nagle is eyeing medium-sized new bridge jobs for the cable and prestressing specialty firm, but “we want to find the next Bosporus.”
China is effectively a closed market for western cable specialists, having developed its own industry, says Nagle. And while Chinese cable subcontractors are not currently big players in the international market, he expects them to emerge in time.
Freyssinet will not be alone in targeting the large cable contract for Dubai’s planned slender cable stayed tower, expected to rise over 900 m. Designed by Spanish architect /engineer Santiago Calatrava, the project could open for bidding next year for completion in 2020.
For Freyssinet, a unit of French contractor VINCI Group, new projects are profitable in emerging economies, but in developed markets, structural repair work now makes up 80% of sales. Facing intense competition for new projects, “we are always looking for something to give us an extra edge,” says Nagle.
In the past 10 years, he has moved the firm from its traditional cable-stay work into bridge-deck erection, doubling sales, he says. While revenue has recently leveled off, the firm is, overall, “in a growth trend,” he claims. Nagle projects Freyssinet’s 7,500 global employees will generate about $840 million in revenue in 2016.
As CEO, the U.K.-born Nagle succeeds Manuel Peltier, who became CEO of VINCI’s Soletanche Freyssinet unit, which controls Freyssinet International and four other firms, with 22,000 employees in all. Peltier had succeeded Benoît de Ruffray, named CEO of French contractor Eiffage after the death of Pierre Berger in 2015.
Since joining Freyssinet in 1989, Nagle ran its U.K. unit, extending it to include Benelux, South Africa and the Middle East regions. Nagle also ran major bridge projects in Hong Kong, Kuwait and Sweden.