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WBHO makes strong return, warns of potential contractor shortage for IPP jobs

Image of the River Club development in Cape Town

River Club construction in Cape Town

13th September 2023

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO) is back, “and we are back on a very strong footing”, says CEO Wolfgang Neff.

“We had an exceptional year in a difficult period.”

The construction group on Wednesday released its results for the financial year ended June 30.

Neff said he was “very relieved” that Australia was now firmly in the rear view mirror, with the group exiting the market Down Under following a disastrous roads project.

WBHO is now active in the local, rest of Africa and UK markets.

The proof of WBHO’s return to health could be found in its order book, which was up 43% for the year ended June 30 compared with the previous year, at R32.6-billion.

“We believe the group is set well for the short to medium term,” said Neff.

The order book was boosted by private sector renewable energy projects, projects in the rest of Africa, as well as a surge in roads projects.

The pipeline in terms of projects by independent power producers (IPPs) “is huge; it sits at R45-billion”, commented Neff. “In my view there will not be enough contractors to do that work”.

The R45-billion refers to projects WBHO have identified as contracts it is likely to bid on, with work to start in the next 24 months, and specifically under the heading ‘energy infrastructure’.

The group’s total pipeline is valued at R212-billion.

More evidence of WBHO’s return to steady footing could be found in the fact that it added 2 750 jobs in the year under review.

WBHO saw revenue for the year increase by 38% to R24-billion, with operating profit before nontrading items at R1.1-billion, up from R859-million.

Around 66% of revenue came from South Africa, 13% from the rest of Africa and 21% from the UK.

In terms of operating profit, 70% flowed from South Africa, 20% from the rest of Africa and 10% from the UK.

Russell-WBHO acted as a drag on UK profit, with WBHO’s total UK business showing a 26% decline in operating profit, to R117-million.

All other business units reported a healthy increase in operating profit.

Looking ahead, Neff said the UK market was stabilising after a period of high inflation, while WBHO would continue to diversify into new African territories to support regional growth.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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