Strabag turnover soars thanks to EE

Two of Austria’s leading construction companies had good and bad news for shareholders in the past few days.

Strabag SE, the country’s busiest building firm, said it achieved a turnover of 13.7 billion Euros in 2011. This is an improvement of 11 per cent compared to 2010. The company’s earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) climbed by around 12 per cent to 334.8 million Euros. Strabag’s workforce levels rose sharply due to a string of new projects in Poland and Scandinavia. Nearly 76,900 people were employed by the Vienna-based construction company in 2011, up from 73,600 in the year before.

Strabag CEO Hans Peter Haselsteiner said the plan was to keep expanding in Eastern Europe (EE) despite difficult economic circumstances in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Strabag strongly benefited from the UEFA’s decision to assign Poland and Ukraine with organising this summer’s European Football Championship. Strabag received was asked to take care of several road, motorway and infrastructure projects in the countries, especially in Poland.

A subsidiary company of Strabag is currently setting up a new port in Duqm, Oman, for 150 million Euros. The assignment includes the construction of some shipyards but also main roads, according to Strabag. A spokeswoman for the company said its local affiliate was also asked to create a water pipe network as well as new telecommunications and electricity settings.

Porr AG – which is Austria’s third-biggest building enterprise behind Strabag SE and Salzburg-based Alpine Bau AG (Alpine) – said yesterday (Mon) it sustained a loss of 72.2 million Euros in 2011.

Porr boss Karl-Heinz Strauss said legal issues regarding assignments in Hungary and Romania and write-offs on these projects in these countries cost the firm 82 million Euros last year. Already in March 2011, the businessman warned: “We may have to withdraw from Hungary. I think (the situation in the country) is critical.”

Strauss said Porr would sell some real estates in the coming months to increase its equity. Porr has more than 14,000 employees in Austria and abroad, around 3,000 more than in 2011.

Alpine’s workforce level ranges around 16,000. Only a few days ago, the company said that former Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner would become new head of the supervisory board. Ferrero-Waldner ran for president in 2004 but lost against former Social Democratic (SPÖ) President of the Parliament Heinz Fischer. The left-winger claimed 52.4 per cent. He was confirmed in office in 2010 when almost 80 per cent of people participating in the election backed him.

Polish and German affiliates of Alpine are currently building a hotel at Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW) for around 32 million Euros. The five-star hotel will have more than 220 rooms and a luxury spa area.