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City Site - International success for major contractors

FINANCE

THE RECENT final results season saw most of the larger contractors making positive noises about their international operations.

Growing orders and profits are flowing from overseas as the majors take advantage of the Middle East construction boom, buoyant markets in the Far East and expor t their know-how in PFI.

Growth in the Middle East and Canada helped Carillion increase its international order book by over 11 per cent to £1.23 billion last year. It won new orders for Dubai Festival City and highway maintenance contracts in Ontario.

Moreover, the firm expects to bid for further PPP hospitals in Canada, beyond the two it is already undertaking and it is pursuing further highways maintenance contracts in Alberta and British Columbia as they embrace outsourcing. More work from Dubai and other growth areas such as Abu Dhabi is also expected.

Balfour Beatty said developing its engineering and construction businesses outside the UK was important but not an urgent priority.

Its key markets are large with sophisticated customers who will pay for superior quality, safety and innovation. The US, western Europe and south-east Asia ? from its presence in Hong Kong ? are the chief targets.

Interserve's international project services operations lifted profits by 56 per cent to £6.1 million as its businesses in Dubai, Qatar and Oman thrived by working on technically and logistically complex jobs.

The firm's equipment services arm also grew st rongly in the Middle East.

Partnerships and joint ventures remain a key ingredient in overseas contracting.

Costain's international business reported a loss last year but the firm is working in joint venture with China Harbour Engineering on the Costa Azul project in Mexico, where it has been granted a time extension and costs.

Kier Group's long-term relationship with Alcoa is bearing fruit in Jamaica ? it is working on an expansion at its alumina refinery. It also has a contract for the expansion of Kingston's airport.