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Arabtec lands Dh561m Dubai airport contract

Arabtec's expansion into infrastructure work nets it a Dh561 million deal for Dubai International Airport's expansion.

Arabtec, the largest construction company in the UAE, has won a Dh561 million (US$152.7m) contract for the expansion of Dubai International Airport.

The award follows Arabtec's Dh636m contract announced last month for infrastructure work in Saudi Arabia.

"The ability to secure infrastructure work is the key," said Mohammad Kamal, an analyst with Arqaam Capital. "The bulk of the opportunity in the Middle East is in infrastructure."

Arabtec will work on the structure, mechanical engineering and plumbing, systems and finishes for the expansion of Terminal 2. The project will take 25 months, the company said.

Arabtec has won 12 airport-related contracts in recent years, including previous work at Dubai International and Dubai World Central, the company said.

"We are proud to be awarded repeated projects with Dubai Civil Aviation and we very much value this special relationship which we have built over the years," said Greg Christofides, the chief executive of Arabtec.

Arabtec's stock jumped 5.7 per cent on Tuesday, before the announcement, but fell back 1.8 per cent yesterday to close at Dh1.62.

The project will add only about 4 per cent to the company's backlog announced at the end of the third quarter, Mr Kamal said. It stood at Dh14.7 billion at the end of last year, Arqaam estimates.

Arabtec's primary focus has been on residential and commercial projects, markets that have slowed considerably in recent years.

"The bulk of their award wins in 2011 have been in line with core competencies of residential structures," Mr Kamal said. "So any momentum in winning infrastructure work is a welcome development."

Arabtec has been winning deals in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. But its profit margins have been declining in the face of increased competition for contracts.

Arabtec posted a profit of Dh39.1m for the third quarter, compared with Dh6.8m for the same quarter of 2010.

"Since the release of the [third-quarter] numbers, it appears the market has been awarding Arabtec for backlog growth and balance sheet liquidity and turning a deaf ear to poor margin performance," Mr Kamal said.

kbrass@thenational.ae

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