The Top 25 Contractors in the World 2014
What have the world's biggest construction firms been up to this year?
The GCC hasn't been the only area of the world in which construction reported an upswing in activity in 2014.
Markets which had been in the doldrums in recent years, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have bounced back much more quickly than many were forecasting and a survey of top industry CEOs by global accountancy giant PwC cited Africa, the Middle East and Latin America as key target markets.
As the year draws to a close, ConstructionWeekOnline.com presents a ranking of the world's biggest contractors by revenue,as well as their links to the Middle East region. All figures have been taken from a ranking of the world's 250 biggest contractors by Engineering News Record.
Once again, Chinese construction giants dominate the ranking, providing seven of the world's 15 biggest firms and four of the top five. Top find out who they were, and who else made the list, read on.
25 Technip, France
(2013 position: 32)
French construction giant whose improved position in the 2014 rankings reflects a stronger performance in the Middle East region. The company, which is a specialist in project management roles in the oil & gas and energy industries, has won a series of new commissions across the region in 2014, including the Nasr Full Field project off the coast of Abu Dhabi, a deal to design a $5bn refinery upgrade in Bahrain and a contract to develop subsea platforms for Dubai Petroleum.
Technip employs around 40,000 people in 48 countries and in 2013 declared operating income of over $1bn (€844.5mn) on revenues of over $11.3bn (€9.3bn).
24 Taisei Corporation, Japan
(2013 position: 23)
The continued sluggishness of Japan's economy has meant Taisei Corporation has slipped further down this list, with revenues falling from $13.3bn in 2013.
The company, which employs around 8,000 workers, has been in business since 1873 and is in the final year of a three-year plan adopted in 2012 which was aimed at recovering eroded margins and cutting the corporation's overall debt levels.
In his discussion of the company's first half performace for the year to March 2015, president Takashi Yamauchi said that it had exceeded targets for the number and value of new orders.
Moreover, following the decision late last year to pick Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Olympics, Yamauchi is predicting that
Japan's construction market is set to remain strong in the run-up to the event, although he warned of a potential slump afterwards. Taisei has also been highlighted as a potential contractor to complete technical works at the new Zaha Hadid-designed stadium set to be the centrepiece of the event.
23 Samsung C&T Corp, Korea
(2013 position: 39)
Samsung C&T has enjoyed a bumper year in 2014. The firm's joint venture with Six Construct finally completed its legacy contract at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, but the company also won several important new contracts around the Middle East - the biggest of which came in February when it secured a deal from Algerian state-owned energy company Sonelgaz worth $1.37bn to build a pair of new power plants.
The company is also active on a number of regional mega-projects, and earlier this month revealed that its $700mn deal under a consortium building the major stations for Doha's Metro is more than 11.6% complete. The project is due to finish at the end of June 2018.
Samsung C&T employs almost 12,000 staff worldwide and has worked on many iconic projects in the GCC, including the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
22 Kajima Corp, Japan
(2013 position: 20)
Kajima Corporation has slipped seven places down the rankings of the world's biggest contractors over the past two years.
The company, which will celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2015, has been involved in some of Japan's most prestigious projects in recent years, including the restoration of Tokyo station ahead of its own 100th anniversary this year.
The company is also currently working on a restoration of the 400 year-old Himeji Castle - a wooden structure with World Heritage Status - where it has just completed the restoration of its main keep.
Kajima Corporation employs more than 7,600 people worldwide and in the first half of 2014 it has reported an 8.6% increase in revenues to $6.3bn.
The company was one of a number of Japanese contractors to have delivered Dubai's Metro.
21 Shimizu Corp, Japan
(2013 position: 22)
Shimizu Corporation is a 210 year-old Japanese contractor headed by president Yoichi Miyamoto which employs almost 11,000 staff. The company is involved in some highly technical projects in manufacturing and in renewable energy, where it has built a floating offshore wind farm project off the coast of Fukushima.
The company had been active in Dubai prior to the 2008 financial collapse, where it secured a number of road projects, but no significant new deals have been secured in the region in recent years.
20 Hyundai E&C, Korea
(2013 position: 25)
Hyundai E&C is another of the Korean giants which remains active across the Middle East - most notably in Qatar where it is building the iconic Natonal Museum of Qatar as well as working on one of the economic zones connected to the country's new $7.4bn port.
In July, the company said that it won more overseas contracts than any of Korea's other construction giants in the first half of 2014 after being awarded deals including a $987mn contract to build an independent water and power plant (IWPP) at Mirfa in Abu Dhabi - its first in the region - and a $4.8bn refinery upgrade contract in Venezuela.
19 Constructora Norberto Odebrecht, Brazil
(2013 position: 18)
The only Brazilan contractor on the list, Odebrecht is a 70 year-old firm which has operations in 21 different countries, including the UAE where it is continuing to work on the huge STEP programme providing a network of high-capacity sewage tunnels underneath Abu Dhabi's city centre.
18 Obayashi Corp, Japan
(2013 position: 17)
Another of Japan's major construction giants alongside Shimizu Corporation (21), Kajima (22) and Taisei (24).
Like a number of the others, Obayashi remains best known in the region for its part in the consortium that delivered the Dubai metro, but unlike several other of its counterparts the company remains an active force in the region.
It is part of a joint venture with Qatar-based Hamad Bin Khalid Contracting that is delivering the $686mn third phase of Msheireb Properties' Downtown Doha scheme.
Obayashi Corporation is still reliant on the Japanese market for the bulk (81.4%) of its revenues, but the company, which built Tokyo's famous Sky Tree Tower, but the company continues to target opportunities in Southeast Asia, North America and the Middle East - most notably Qatar and the UAE.
These two territories were recently described by the general manager of its overseas business division, Makoto Kishida, as areas where "the political situation is relatively stable and resourced are plentiful".
17 Eiffage, France
Eiffage is a French construction and engineering group which recently won a contract to build Europe's biggest photovoltaic plant at Cestas, near the French city of Bordeaux. The $347mn contract is due to complete in October 2015.
Once it has, the facility will generate enough power for the entire daytime consumption of Bordeaux.
16 Strabag, Austria
(2013 position: 15)
Austrian civil engineering giant which was founded in 1835 and completed its first overseas job in 1891.
The company now employs around 76,800 staff. In the Middle East, it is most active in the Oman market, where in November 2013 it landed a $120mn road contract to build a 100km stretch of road between Sinaw and Duq'm.
Strabag has had a strong 2014, increasing its order backlog by 10% to $18.7bn following new contract awards in Germany, Chile, Mauritius and Poland. The latter market has offered a series of new road project wins and a new factory for Volkswagen which will be a production site for the VW Crafter.
15 Skanska, Sweden
(2013 position: 16)
Sweden's biggest contracting group is headed by CEO Johan Karlström and employs 57,000 staff. Alongside its general construction activities, the company invests in property projects and is a specialist in public-private partnership (PPP) deals in its target markets of Europe and North America.
Highlights in 2014 include a $308mn contract to build a new office property at 52 Lime Street in the City of London and a $53mn contract to build a football stadium at Prairie View for Texas A&M University in the United States.
14 Sinohydro Group, China
(2013 position: 14)
The first of our Chinese companies in the list is Sinohydro - a hydropower and construction specialist which has completed a number of important Middle East projects including the $135mn Novotel and Ibis hotel towers in Abu Dhabi for HE Sheikh
Ahmed bin Saif bin Mohamed Al Nahyan, and the A380 runway at Qatar's Hamad International Airport. The company, which was set up in the 1950s, employs 130,000 people and is responsible for 65% of China's major hydropower projects.
13 Leighton Holdings, Australia
(2013 position: 11)
It's been an interesting year for Leighton Holdings - the Australian contracting business which owns a 45% share in Dubai-based Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG).
The company, which was involved in a spat with a number of newspapers in its local market at the end of 2013 over the amount of money HLG had yet to collect, was the subject of a successful $1.2bn takeover by its controlling shareholder Hochtief (which is itself controlled by Spanish construction giant Grupo ACS).
Following the takeover, most of Leighton Holdings' former management including CEO Hamish Tyrwhitt and CFO Peter Gregg left the firm and a restructuring has taken place, which has seen some divisions sold off with a view to simplifying its operations and cutting its overall debt pile.
Earlier this month, Leighton Holdings announced the sale of its John Holland infrastructure business - a specialist in rail work - to China Communications Construction Corp (CCCC) in a deal worth $933mn.
It also sold 50% of its operations and services businesses to private equity firm Apollo Global Management in a deal that raised a further $570mn. Its stated long-term plan for HLG is to have the business in a state where it is ready to achieve an independent stockmarket listing by 2016.
12 Fluor Corp, USA
(2013 position: 12)
Texas-based engineering & construction group which has landed a couple of significant regional contracts in 2014. In February, it confirmed that its consortium had been chosen to deliver the second package of the $12bn Mina Abdullah CleanFuels project in southern Kuwait alongside JV partners Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Engineering & Construction.
In May, it won an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to deliver a manufacturing plant for Dow Chemicals, which will make elements required for reverse osmosis plants at Jubail Industrial City II in Saudi Arabia.
Fluor Corporation employs around 40,000 staff worldwide and in March it was named as the most admired company in engineering and construction by Forbes magazine for the third year in succession.
11 Shanghai Construction Group, China
(2013 position: 13)
Shanghai Construction Group has been around for over 50 years, but has grown rapidly over the past two decades as its home city became a boom town.
The company has been responsible for some special engineering feats, including the Shanghai Maglev - the world's first commercial maglev line - and the East China Sea Bridge, but it is not as geographically diverse as some of the other major Chinese players.
This year, the company has completed the 632m-high Shanghai Tower, which is China’s tallest building, and the world’s second-tallest behind Dubai's Burj Khalifa.
It has been designed by US-based architectural practice Gensler, with consulting engineer Thornton Tomasetti, to be the anchor of the city’s busy Lujiazi commercial district.
The building has a tapered, spiral form that twists 120 degrees. The design was created to help it to withstand the typhoon-force winds that are common to Shanghai.
10 China Metallurgical Group
(2013 position: 9)
China's fourth-biggest contracting company was only formed in 1982 but is the biggest metallurgical contracting company in the world, with a presence in over 90 countries and a listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges.
The company builds everything from big, industrial complexes and power plants in its home country to hotels and leisure projects on the island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean to road projects in Bangladesh and the Hassan Sports City stadium complex in Jordan.
In August, the company successfully raised $500mn on international money markets for a three-year bond. Part of the proceeds is being used to refinance existing loans, with the remainder set aside to fund overseas ventures.
In May this year, the firm announced plans to invest $347mn in a steel mill in Iran and it has invested in a joint venture with a local to build a smelter in Indonesia.
9 Bechtel, USA
(2013 position: 10)
Bechtel is another major contractor that has been able to finally deliver a number of important legacy contracts in 2014, including the long-delayed Hamad International Airport, which was finally opened to the public in June this year.
Similarly, Muscat International Airport, which had been set to open this year, announced a soft opening for a limited
section of the $1.8bn first phase of the prject earlier this month when a new runway and air traffic control tower was used.
Bechtel has managed construction of both airports, and in January this year it was appointed by Sharjah Airport's bosses to come up with a new masterplan for its expansion.
On a global level, the firm announced a restructuring in October that will see it combine its civils, power, rail and aviation arms into a single infrastructure department. Meanwhile, it also created a new nuclear, security and environmental arm. The family-owned firm also appointed Brendan Bechtel as president and chief operating officer in August, making him the fifth generation of family members to hold the post.
8 Bouygues, France
Formidable French contracting group with operations in over 80 countries and around 52,200 employees.
The company has a Middle East presence - most notably in Qatar, where it was involved in the construction of the Barwa Financial District. Subsidiary VSL - a specialist in post-tensioning and structural strengthening, is also active across civil construction projects in Qatar and the UAE.
The company said that in 2013, it generated 46% of revenues outside of France and achieved a record order book of $21.6bn.
7 Hochtief, Germany
As majority shareholder in Leighton Holdings (13), Hochtief is most active in the region through its investment in Habtoor Leighton Group, although its specialist software cosultancy Hochtief Vicon provides independent BIM consultancy advice under its own label throughout the region.
The group, which employs more than 80,000 staff worldwide, is headquartered in Essen, Germany, but generates around 90% of its sales worldwide outside of the country. It is also a controlling shareholder in US-based project management firm Turner Construction, but is itself controlled by Spanish construction giant Grupo ACS, which recently upped its stake in Hochtief to 61%.
6 Grupo ACS, Spain
(2013 position: 4)
Grupo ACS is a Spanish construction conglomerate which, through stakes in Hochtief (7) and Leighton Holdings (13), is the ultimate controller of 45% of Dubai's Habtoor Leighton Group.
The company also has other business interests in the region, including engineering consultancy Tecsa, which is part of the FCC consortium that bagged the Riyadh Metro contract for lines 4, 5 and 6 last year. Industrial contracting specialist Dragados also picked up a $400m contract to build a polyacetel plant in Saudi Arabia last year.
The company was founded in 1997 through the merger of OCP Construcciones, S.A. and Gines Navarro Construcciones, S.A.
Its chairman and CEO is Florentino Perez, who has also been president of Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid since 2009.
5 Vinci, France
(2013 position: 5)
Vinci's main operating arms, Vinci Energies, Eurovia and Vinci Construction last year worked on more than 266,000 projects in 100 countries and the firm employs close to 191,000 people.
It has operations throughout the Middle East, where it operates under a number of brands including contractor Freyssinet, environment engineering consultancy DEC, Dredging International, vibro-compaction company Menard and Sainrapt Contracting Co.
Freyssinet has an established presence in Saudi Arabia, where the firm is part of the FAST consortium led by Spanish construction giant FCC alongside Samsung C&T and Alstom delivering three of its six lines.
Meanwhile, in Qatar, the company has a successful joint venture with state-owned real estate giant Qatari Diar known as QDVC.
It is not only working as a consortium member delivering the Red Line South element of Doha Metro, it is also building Lusail's Light Rail Transport system where it picked up a $2.7bn contract to complete the scheme in July this year.
It also picked up a road contract from Qatar's Public Works Authority, Ashghal, in March this year alongside Bin Omran worth $1.16bn for part of the Orbital Highway and Truck Route.
4. China Communications Construction Group, China
(2013 position: 6)
The top four positions as the world's biggest contractors are dominated by China's big four contractors. China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is the smaller of the fourth, with revenues of $54.6bn and a market capitalisation on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stockmarkets of around $23.5bn.
The company employs over 110,000 people and more than 30 different business units involved in infrastructure, buildings, dredging, heavy machinery manufacturing and other types of business.
However, it is set to add a further 4,100 people to this total following its recent acquisition of Leighton Holdings' (13) John Holland business. This deal will also add a further $3bn to its revenue base and around $4.4bn to its order book.
CCCC also owns ZPMC - the manufacturer of heavy-duty cranes that are now lining more of the Middle East's new container handling terminals, while dredging subsidiaries such as China Harbour Engineering Co and CCC Guangzhou Dredging Company, have picked up major deals in Qatar (at the New Port Project) and Kuwait (Subiya Crossing) successively.
3. China Railway Group, China
(2013 position: 2)
China Railway Group is a giant of the industry, operating a network of over 45 subsidiaries involved in a range of construction and property development activities. The firm, which currently has a market cap of over $29bn, has overseas ambitions having previously targeted construction of the UK's new High Speed Rail network as a target.
The firm recently announced that it had won a $3.6bn contract to build a new passenger network along the 377km-long rail network between the cities of Harbin and Dalian. The deal was the biggest single railroad construction contract awarded in China this year, it added.
2. China Railway Construction Corp, China
(2013 position: 1)
China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) has grown rapidly in recent years on the back of a huge infrastructure investment programme in its core market. The company, which also has divisions in engineering design, manufacturing, property,
logistics and a range of other industries, is a state-owned giant which has delivered most of the country's new network of high-speed trains.
Not content with growth in its home market, though, the company is offering to finance and install new high-speed rail
networks in territories around the world and recently signed a $13.1bn contract to deliver a new network in Nigeria last month. Earlier this month, it announced plans to raise $1.6bn through a private placing of its shares with investors in order to fund ongoing projects.
1. China State Construction Engineering Corp
(2013 position: 1)
China's (and the world's) biggest construction company, China State Construction Engineering Corp, is also the most active in the Middle East.
The company, which is run by regional CEO Yu Tao, has this year moved forwards with a number of previously-delayed schemes, including the delivery of five of the 13 towers being built at Tamouh's City of Lights project on Reem Island inAbu Dhabi, the 283km-high Al Hikma Tower on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai delivered for HH Sheikh Issa bin Zayed's PearlProperties and the now-completed Southern Sun Hotel in Abu Dhabi for HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The company is also progressing with the $1bn Viceroy Dubai Palm hotel, where it is not only the project's contractor, but also an investor.
Away from these high-end schemes, CSCEC has been a specialist in developing huge, masterplanned affordable housing in its home market and Mr Tao has previously told Construction Week that the company would be keen to get involved in similar projects across the region, adding that it has the advantage of being able to fund the delivery of its own schemes.