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Punj Lloyd Singapore unit sees orders triple

(SINGAPORE) Sembawang Engineers & Constructors, a unit of India’s Punj Lloyd, said yesterday its orderbook has tripled from a year ago on a construction boom in Singapore.

The strong demand helped Singapore’s largest construction firm by sales raise its orderbook to $2.1 billion and boosted gross profit margins to 7-8 per cent from 1-1.5 per cent in 2006, said chief executive Alwyn Bowden.

‘We’re concentrating on infrastructure projects because these are bigger and more challenging, and are higher profile,’ Mr Bowden told Reuters in an interview.

He said that while demand for building homes and offices is expected to slow amidst an easing property market here, the impact is ‘negligible’, offset by major infrastructure investments in its key target markets of Singapore, India, and the Middle East.

These projects will not be derailed by fears of a global slowdown sparked by an ongoing credit crisis, due to strong economic growth in India and a spike in oil prices that are boosting Middle East coffers, he said.

Currently Singapore makes up 80 per cent of the firm’s orderbook. But the company aims to reduce that share and split its sales three ways between South- east Asia, India, and the Middle East.

‘We only need to grab a relatively small share of that market, to already be headed towards the same sort of levels of revenues that we achieve here and in South-east Asia,’ he said.

Shares in Punj Lloyd, India’s fifth-biggest builder, slid 6 per cent yesterday to take losses for the year to 41 per cent, underperforming an 18 per cent fall since December in the broader Bombay market.

Sembawang is currently involved in a number of high-profile projects here, including casino resorts – the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World at Sentosa – as well as a contract to build part of a new subway line.

Source: Reuters (Business Times 6 Mar 08)

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