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City share surge as Balfour Beatty heads west


BALFOUR BEATTY' share price growth trounced that of Alfred McAlpine in the City this week following announcements by both contractors of strategically important acquisitions.

Balfour Beatty added 12% to its value as shares rose from 415p to 465p after buying US builder Centex Construction for $362M (£181M), more than doubling anticipated US revenues in 2007 to £1.8bn.

Alfred McAlpine's shares rose a more modest 2% from 555p to 565p following its less spectacular but equally interesting purchase of environmental consultancy Enviros for £30M.

The Centex purchase continues Balfour Beatty's campaign to make the US its second domestic market. The company will sit alongside Heery, Balfour Beatty Rail and Balfour Beatty Capital.

Centex chairman and chief executive Robert Van Cleeve is staying with the company reporting to Andy Rose, one of Balfour Beatty's four group managing directors.

'Centex Construction is a high-quality building company that gives us profitable critical mass in the US, said Balfour Beatty chief executive Ian Tyler.

The company operates in the growth US markets of Florida, Texas, Washington DC and North Carolina and employs 1,500 people. Turnover to March 2006 was £800M and operating profit was £13.4M.

Alfred McAlpine is seen to have caught the environmental wave with its purchase of the 425-strong Enviros, although others interested in the consultant said the £30M price may have been too high. The £29.5M turnover business produced £700,000 of profit last year.

Enviros will be integrated into Alfred McAlpine's blue collar facilities management Business Services division. This will allow it to cross sell services to existing clients such as BP, Corus and the Carbon Trust.

'Enviros will add significantly to our capabilities, ' said Alfred McAlpine group chief executive Ian Grice. 'Environmental issues continue to grow in importance for business, with signifi cant focus on climate change, energy consumption? and waste.'

White Young Green has bought £650,000 turnover town planning business Turner Holden for £1.4M. This is its seventh purchase in the past 12 months. Other buys have included Adams Kara Taylor and Tweeds.

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