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Balfour wants push on US growth

Balfour Beatty is making plans for its turnover in the US to match UK revenues.

The firm has been in the country since the mid 1980s and has two headquarters offices out there at Atlanta and Dallas.

Around a quarter of its current £7.5 billion revenue comes from across the Atlantic Ocean with the bulk – about 65 per cent – coming from its UK operations. The remainder is derived from its businesses in Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore.

But chief executive Ian Tyler said he expects turnover from the US and UK to be each around 40 per cent in the future.

He added: “I would like to see the revenue coming out of the US no smaller than that of the UK. We want to increase our focus and critical mass out there.”

The firm works mainly in the south of the country stretching from Florida in the south-east, through the Carolinas, across to Texas and through to the west coast in California.

Last year it became a major force in the country when it bought Dallas-based Centex Construction five years after its planned takeover of £2 billion turnover US firm John Jones – that had been earmarked as the deal to break the US market – was scuppered by a fall in the stock market.

Mr Tyler said Balfour Beatty is focused on the areas with the highest growth potential and added that it was looking to beef its building operations in California.

But he ruled out making a move into other burgeoning markets such as India and China. He said the firm had looked into the idea but with reference to India, he added: “We are looking at where we can make a difference to the markets. Our business model is most successful in more sophisticated, developed economies.”

Closer to home, the firm took a £95 million hit for its stake in the failed Metronet consortium that was hired to look after and revamp part of the London Underground.

Balfour Beatty is continuing to replace track on the network and Mr Tyler said: “We continue to have a very strong relationship with Transport for London. We are renewing track every day. We make good money out of it, not excessive and we’re good at it.”

And Mr Tyler was bullish about its planned scheme to build one of the showpiece venues for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He said: “The aquatics centre is an asset that needs to be built and we will deliver it on time. Everybody is very clear how we will do that.”

The firm is preferred bidder for the project, which carries a £300 million-plus price tag, with the Olympic Delivery Authority due to make a formal appointment in the next few weeks.

Related links: Balfour breaks £7bn figure