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Strong half-year 2018 results have prompted UK-based contractor Balfour Beatty to increase its interim dividend.

Leo Quinn, chief executive of the group, said, “Given the strength of our balance sheet and the board’s confidence that the group’s full year earnings will meet expectations, we are raising the interim dividend by 33% and plan to repay the outstanding convertible bonds this year.”

Underlying profit from operations rose by 69% to £66 million (€74.8 million), from £39 million (€44.2 million) in the first half of 2017.

Average net cash came to £161 million (€182.4 million), up from the £45 million (€51 million) recorded in the same period in 2017. Half-year net cash was £366 million (€414.5 million), compared to £161 million (€182.4 million) in the first half of 2017.

Underlying profit from UK construction operations climbed to £5 million (€6.7 million), from £2 million (€2.3 million) in the equivalent period of the previous year, after a £15 million (€17 million) charge on the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

The company said its higher-quality order book increased by 11% to £12.6 billion (€14.3 billion), compared to £11.4 billion (€12.9 billion) in the first half of 2017, whilst maintaining Build to Last disciplines.

Quinn said, “All our businesses are now either achieving industry standard margins or on track to do so in the second half. The disciplines installed under Build to Last are also enabling us to increase the order book with key infrastructure projects to translate Balfour Beatty’s expert capabilities into future profitable growth.”

The directors’ valuation of the investments portfolio was said to be stable at £1.2 billion (€1.4 billion), following £108 million (€122 million) worth of sale proceeds.

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