Net profits grew +12% year-on-year at Astaldi to € 62,6 million, while annual sales were up +9,2% to € 2 billion after the company experienced an increase in fourth quarter activity.

The Italian contractor reported a +23,6% increase in sales in the final three months of the year to € 583,4 million and said it experienced a "marked intensification" in its activities in Italy and abroad, boosted by a string of major projects becoming operational during the period.

"This offset the slowdown in some projects in progress following contract renegotiation or project reviews currently under discussion with clients," the company said.

Astaldi reported an order backlog of "over € 9 billion" at the end of 2010, of which € 6 billion consisted of general contracting projects and the remaining € 3 billion was attributed to the concessions and project finance sector.

Overall, the order backlog increased by € 2 billion year-on-year. Projects in Italy accounted for 54% of the total, while projects in Turkey, Eastern Europe, Algeria and Latin America constituted the bulk of the remaining 46%.

Astaldi said the most significant orders it recorded in 2010 included a € 466 million stake in a concession contract to construct and manage Line 5 of the Milan underground in Italy and a 15% stake in a US$ 1,24 billion (€ 917 million) consortium to construct two major railway stations along the Mecca-Medina high speed rail line in Saudi Arabia.

Other major contract wins included a US$ 80 million (€ 59 million) contract for civil works related to the construction of an oil refinery in the Jubail industrial district of Saudi Arabia, and a 60% stake in a € 417 million contract to design and construct the Saida-Tiaret railway in Algeria.

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