Keller has announced a post-tax loss of £1.2M for the year ended 31 December 2014, compared to a profit of £30.1M in 2013.
The loss was largely due to an exceptional charge of £54M relating to the settlement of a dispute on a contract completed in 2008.
Speaking to GE, Justin Atkinson, Keller CEO declined to comment further on the dispute due to a confidentiality agreement. However, he added: “The specific contract that caused the exceptional loss dated back to 2008, so in the last three years we have been pushing risk management significantly in our business.
“At the start of 2012, we started a big group initiative on risk management. We rolled out a new risk management framework.
“Since we have done this, it has improved profit margins.”
Despite the loss, the group achieved record revenue of £1.6bn, up 11% on the previous year. Pre-tax profit increased to £85M, compared to £74M in 2013, and cash from operations was up 117% to £165M.
Atkinson said: “25% of our revenue in 2014 was on the back of large projects. A large project for us is anything over £5M.
“Projects around the world are getting larger and urbanisation means there are bigger population centres, infrastructure jobs are getting more complex and we’re aligning ourselves to participate in this.”
This large project initiative has provided a good platform for 2015, with the company recently announcing contract wins in Austria for a new railway line and in Singapore for the extension of Changi Airport.
The US continues to be the company’s largest market with the region accounting for 40% of revenue and more than 50% of profits for 2014.
“It’s pleasing to see that in 2014 the public markets in the US improved as well as the private markets,” commented Atkinson. “Not only is the US our biggest market and most profitable region, it is currently operating in one of the best market environments.
“The UK market is probably one of the better markets that we operate in within Europe, having said that, it is still very competitive.”
Atkinson is confident that 2015 will be successfully year for the group. He added: “The market is moving in the right direction. The large projects initiative means we are better geared up to perform larger projects. We’re continuing to transfer technology around the group. We’re doing a better job at managing our equipment. With the presence that we have in the market, I would be disappointed if we don’t announce an acquisition in 2015.”