Egypt's Orascom and partly owned Besix post $10bn backlog for 2018

Egyptian contractor and its partly held Belgian firm both expanded their Middle East project portfolios last year

Orascom Construction is builing Egypt's largest wind farm in a joint venture agreement. [representational image]
Orascom Construction is builing Egypt's largest wind farm in a joint venture agreement. [representational image]

Net profits for the Nasdaq Dubai- and Egypt bourse-listed Orascom Construction jumped by 84.3% in 2018, driven by “operational excellence and project controls”, with the construction giant earning net profits of $144.7m during the year.

Orascom's 2018 profits were supported by a backlog of $4.5bn, and the company’s board of directors proposed a dividend distribution of $35m following the results' announcement. 

According to a missive to Nasdaq Dubai, Osama Bishai, chief executive officer of Orascom Construction, said: “Our consolidated fourth quarter earnings round up a consistent ending to the year and reflect our continuous focus on operational excellence and project controls.

"We also ended the quarter with a solid addition of new awards that highlight our market leadership and our efforts to identify quality projects in new markets.”

The profit hike came after the firm signed approximately $1.5bn of new projects in the Middle East and Africa during 2018, of which 65% – worth $520m – came in the fourth quarter of the year.

Orascom said in its filing that it would retain its strong presence in Egypt on the back of an order book comprising water desalination, wastewater treatment, and water infrastructure projects.

As an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor, as well as one that delivers operations and maintenance services, Orascom is currently working on water plants that respectively have a total capacity of two million cubic-metres per day, and 500,000m3 per day. 

Belgium-based engineering, procurement and construction services company Besix, which Orascom Construction partly owns, also recorded a robust performance in 2018, with a standalone backlog of $5.4bn at the end of the year.

Besix revealed a smart Netherlands headquarters powered by artificial intelligence and solar panels in February 2019. Regionally, the contractor has also been contracted to work on two pavilions of Expo 2020 Dubai, one each for Belgium and France

New projects for Besix signed in Q4 2018 include Africa’s tallest tower in Morocco; infrastructure and commercial work in the UAE; a hydropower plant in Cameroon; a drinking water treatment plant in Ivory Coast; and marine and transportation work in European markets such as the Netherlands, France, and Belgium.

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