German-based contractor Hochtief has seen its net annual profits increase by 46% to €252 million for the year ending 31 December, 2014.

The company also recorded a 15.7% increase in pre-tax operational earnings to €644 million last year, compared with €556.7 million for 2013. Its order backlog stood at €35.7 billion for the full-year 2014, against €35.9 achieved the previous year.

It said that its core strategy in 2014 had focused on strengthening its balance sheet, as well as prioritising construction, engineering and public-private partnership (PPP) ventures.

In Australia, Hochtief raised its holding in the Leighton construction group from 58% to almost 70% as part of its long-term growth plans. This included work on a €1.8 billion new rail link in Sydney. It forecast net operational profit of between €220 million and €260 million for 2015.

Chairman Marcelino Fernández Verdes said in his outlook for 2015, that the business had made “crucial decisions” last year that he hoped would bring further growth for the company.

He said, “We have substantially strengthened the balance sheet and enhanced earnings quality, thus creating the basis for a sustained improvement of returns. The figures illustrate that the company has improved significantly in its core business.”

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