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BALFOUR BEATTY

BALFOUR BEATTY reported operating profits of 42M for last year compared to 10M in 1996 thanks to increased returns from its US civil engineering business.

Results published last week also showed turnover up slightly to 2.2bn from 2.12bn.

The contractors improved results helped parent BICC offset exceptional costs of 122M for the restructuring of its troubled cables division. Overall, BICC reported pretax losses of 30M on turnover of 4.5bn compared with a pretax profit of 60M on turnover of 4.6bn in 1996.

Improved US performance followed a decision to quit general contracting. It now concentrates on the burgeoning public sector civil engineering market which includes seismic retrofits on San Franciscos Golden Gate bridge and electrification of the railway between New York and Boston.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Mike Welton said the cuts in road spending, and the slow acceleration of Railtracks 10-year, 14bn investment programme, had caused a hiatus in British civil engineering orders.

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