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The backlog in French group Bouygues’ construction businesses was said to be at a record level of €31 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2017, up 4% year-on-year.

It said that in France, the construction market had gradually improved in the first quarter, with a backlog at the end of March 2017 up 6% year-on-year to €14.9 billion.

The group said that two major contracts for the Grand Paris Express rapid transport project had been signed during the first quarter of the year. Worth a total of €731 million, these were the extension of the RER Eole suburban rail line, including a tunnel between Saint-Lazare railway station and La Défense, and the construction of a new station at Porte Maillot; as well as the extension of metro Line 15 South between the stations of Vitry Centre and Créteil L’Echat.

Bouygues Construction said it had therefore maintained a good level of order intake over the first quarter, at €1.6 billion.

Residential property reservations at Bouygues Immobilier increased for the fifth consecutive quarter, rising by 30% in first quarter 2017 against the same period last year to €510 million.

Backlog at roads division Colas in France at the end of March 2017 was up 9% year-on-year to €3.3 billion, reflecting the gradual recovery in roadbuilding, Bouygues said.

In Bouygues’ international markets, the backlog at the end of March 2017 was €16.1 billion, up 2% on a year earlier. It includes the construction of five solar farms in Australia for €261 million, two housing programmes in Switzerland for €190 million, and the widening of a section of the D1 motorway in the Czech Republic for €40 million.

International business represented 57% of the backlog at Bouygues Construction and Colas at the end of March this year. The construction businesses reported sales of €5.1 billion in the first quarter, 4% more than in the first quarter of 2016 (up 5% like-for-like and at constant exchange rates).

Bouygues said the current operating loss of €134 million mainly reflected Colas’ seasonality and was not indicative of the full-year performance.

It added that its outlook for 2017 provided with the full-year 2016 results release was being confirmed. Bouygues expects to continue to improve its profitability in 2017 driven by all business segments.

It said that in a market that exhibited long-term growth potential sustained by the gradual roll-out of infrastructure programmes in developed countries, the construction businesses had a high level backlog and solid competitive edge.

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