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Balfour Beatty full-year profit gets boost from infrastructure sale

Balfour Beatty full-year profit gets boost from infrastructure sale
FILE PHOTO: Raindrops are seen on a sign at a Balfour Beatty construction site in central London September 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth   -   Copyright  Stefan Wermuth(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – British construction group Balfour Beatty Plc <BALF.L> on Friday said it expects to report full-year profit above its earlier expectations, getting a boost on the proceeds from the sale of an infrastructure investment this month.

The company has been carrying out disposals from its infrastructure investments unit which operates a UK portfolio of concessions, mainly in education, health, street lighting, offshore transmission, renewables and student accommodation.

It sold its interest in Fife Hospital for 43 million pounds in September and expects to complete a partial sale of 80 percent of its Edinburgh University student accommodation project for 24 million pounds.

The 109 year-old company is in the midst of a turnaround programme called “Build to Last”. It forecast 2018 profit from infrastructure sales of about 65 million pounds.

Shares of Balfour were up 4.1 percent at 256.1 pence, among the top gainers on the FTSE 250 mid cap index <.FTMC>.

The company, which primarily operates in UK and Ireland, United States and the Far East, said second-half revenue is expected to be in line with the first-half figure of 3.84 billion pounds.

It also forecast its year-end order book to be about 12 billion pounds, higher than the 11.4 billion pounds at the end of 2017.

Balfour Beatty, which competes with bankrupt Carillion <CLLN.L> and debt-ladden Interserve Plc <IRV.L>, said it was selectively winning work in all its chosen markets on the “right terms and at appropriate margins”.

The company operates in a fiercely competitive market in which a host of companies vie for outsourcing contracts for basic services, some of the largest of which are awarded by British government bodies.

The collapse of Carillion in January intensified uncertainty about the future of a sector that has tended to chase large contracts on slim margins. Interserve on Sunday announced a rescue plan that envisaged converting much of its debt into new shares, potentially handing control of the company to its creditors.

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar, Bernard Orr)

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