By Andy Sambidge
Balfour Beatty says volumes especially strong in Qatar amid weakness in home market
New Middle East contracts helped stabilise the order book of UK builder Balfour Beatty amid weakness in its home market during the first half of 2012, the company has said.
It said its professional services unit continued to perform well in the Middle East where growth has helped to offset declines in the UK market.
Britain's largest contractor said volumes were growing in the Middle East, particularly in Qatar where it has been picked as programme manager for projects awarded by Ashghal and Qatar Railway Company.
"Both projects are proceeding well. We are also active on projects in other markets in the region such as Saudi Arabia," Balfour Beatty said in a statement.
On construction services, the company said that revenue of its Middle East joint ventures remained "at a low level".
It added: "The recent improvementin debt repayments in the region has resulted in the reversal of bad debt provisions, and facilitated claim settlements, boosting profitability."
The company said the outlook for 2012 remained positive, particularly in transportation and power in the Americas, in higher growth regions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and in mining globally.
With £5.1bn of orders won in the first half of the year, Balfour Beatty's order book remained largely stable at £15bn.
In March Balfour Beatty said it is shifting its work from the UAE where opportunities "are currently limited".
The construction giant said it was focusing in the Middle East on markets in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
It said opportunities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were now constrained, necessitating a move away from the UAE.