Fluor Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie G. McCraw said Wednesday that he will retire Jan. 1 after he was found to have bladder cancer.
The 63-year-old McCraw, who guided Irvine-based Fluor through international expansion but recently has accepted blame for letting growth get out of hand, announced his decision at a board of directors meeting in Greenville, S.C., and was not available for comment.
Peter J. Fluor, great-grandson of the company's founder and a member of the Fluor board since 1984, will serve as interim chairman until a permanent replacement is named.
Many company observers believe the leading candidate for the top job is James C. Stein, 54, who was selected by McCraw in March to become president of the company's major operating subsidiary, Fluor Daniel. The company said it has hired an executive search firm to help it find a new chief executive.
In his statement Wednesday, McCraw said malignant polyps in his bladder were surgically removed last month, but that his postoperative treatment will be "more lengthy and time-restrictive" than anticipated.
The regimen will keep McCraw from devoting time and energy to the corporate restructuring plan he and Stein began implementing earlier this year after the company's profit took a nose dive.
McCraw joined Greenville, S.C.-based Daniel Engineering in 1975 and became president of Fluor two years after its 1987 merger with Daniel. He became chairman in 1990.
Fluor said in February it would take a $120-million charge for cost overruns on several projects. In March, the company posted a $70-million loss for its second quarter.
Fluor ended the year with $14.3 billion in revenue and a $146.2-million profit, in part because of a $100-million cost-cutting effort that resulted in the elimination of about 600 jobs, the shrinking or closing of several domestic and overseas offices and a major refocusing of the company's business development efforts.