Bouygues SA, the French construction giant and telecom-media firm, has named its first non-family member as CEO—elevating current deputy chief Olivier Roussat, who also had been chairman of its telecom unit, to succeed Martin Bouygues. Roussat had been in the deputy role since 2015.

Martin Bouygues, a son of the contractor's late founder Francis Bouygues, remains chairman and had served in both roles since 1989, as his father did since the firm began in 1952.

The role split will "meet the challenges we face, whether economic, climate-related, social or digital ... to ensure that Bouygues has the most effective governance," said Bouygues. He noted "the arrival of a new generation of senior executives, acknowledged for their professional skills, trained within the group and who are highly familiar with its culture." 

The changes come as the firm announced its 2020 corporate results on Feb. 17, noting that rebounding income in the second half of last year offset a 15% drop in the first six months from COVID-19 impacts. Full-year sales fell 9% to €34.6 billion, with a second-half rally compensating for a 15% decline in H1, the firm said.

In its major construction division, Income slipped 11% to €26.2 billion.

But backlog in the global construction units edged up 1% over 2019 to a record €33.1 billion, "providing good visibility on future activity," the firm said, noting better results internationally than in France, with contracts booked in the U.S., Canada and Hong Kong.  The firm is also a major contractor on the HS2 high-speed rail project in the U.K.

Construction operating profit was down from 2019, but was still "significantly positive" at €437 million, Bouygues said.

Bouygues ranks at No. 10 on ENR’s list of the Top 250 Global Contractors, reporting $33.2 billion in 2019 global construction revenue, with $17.1  billion outside of France; about 51% is in transportation and 34% in general building.

The firm also said its board, which will meet on April 22, has 50% independent directors, with women comprising half of its members.

According to Martin Bouygues, "2021 will continue to be impacted by the pandemic, from which we hope to emerge gradually. The growth of our business segments will accelerate, and we will increase measures to protect and improve our people’s health and well-being in the workplace."

Edward Bouygues, son of Martin, is named as deputy CEO, along with company chief financial officer Pascal Grangé, the company said. The younger Bouygues also now is executive vice president of the telecom company. The Bouygues board also named telecom unit CEO Richard Viel to the added role of chairman.

In a separate action announced by the U.S. Justice Dept. on Feb. 17, Bouygues infrastructure engineering subsidiary Colas SA agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement of criminal and civil charges related to supply of substandard concrete by a unit based in Djibouti in east Africa, under a contract for construction of U.S. Navy airfields there.

 Justice also alleges that the firm presented false concrete test results, which it said could have accelerated cracking and steel rebar corrosion.

The local Colas unit also is a contractor for the US embassy in Djibouti.

Under a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of California to settle alleged wrongdoing, Colas will pay a total of $12,5 million in forfeitures, restitution and penalties and "admit to the underlying facts," says the Justice announcement.

The firm also settled a separate civil action under the federal False Claims Act, agreeing to an added $1.9-million payment. But said Justice, "except as admitted in the DPA, the claims resolved by the civil settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability."

The firm has not commented on the settlements.