UK Engineering Giant Sets Sights on Australia

Friday, September 20th, 2013
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The recently-appointed head of Balfour Beatty has flagged ambitious plans by the UK engineering giant for further expansion into the Australian market.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Andrew McNaughton, who was appointed to the top position in March of this year, said to The Australian Financial Review that he considered Australia a top-three priority for the firm alongside the UK and US, referring to the country as another potential “home market.”

“I would see [Australia] to be our third home market in the future after the UK and the US,” Mr. McNaughton said to the AFR.

“When you look at the metrics around population and urbanization and the need to drive forward in the communities on both the east coast and west coast, we can see it’s something for us – it’s a scale of operations we can build a business in.”

Mr. McNaughton applauded the Coalition government’s plan to spur economic growth via spending on infrastructure, citing it as key a reason for the heightened appeal of the Australian market for overseas engineering firms such as Balfour Beatty.

He also noted that the group would focus on transportation, water and resource projects when attempting to expand within the Australian market.

Mr. McNaughton made the remarks while visiting Australia to conduct meetings with clients and business partners in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.

Balfour Beatty, like many of its British engineering peers, has long sought to expand into overseas markets as a result of a protracted slump in the UK building sector.

In June the company announced the retrenchment of around 200 British employees, and the closure of three of its regional UK offices, as the downturn in the UK housing sector continued.

The company is focusing instead on overseas operations, which currently account for around a half of its total revenues.

In May of this year Balfour Beatty won a $159 million contract in Melbourne as part of the NetworX Alliance team, for a project to relocate a rail line below a busy road in the suburb of Springvale. Parsons Brinckerhoff, a Balfour Beatty subsidiary, was entrusted with the design work for the project, including the station, railway, roads, retaining walls and other related structures.

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