Reports of the demise of the construction industry in South Africa are greatly exaggerated, says construction giant Grinaker-LTA.

AltX listed, Brikor Limited a manufacturer and supplier of building and construction materials which also mines clay and coal through its wholly owned subsidiary Ilangabi Investments 12 was in provisional liquidation just four years ago.

Thursday, 22 May 2008 02:00

Esor thrives on building boom

Geotechnical engineering specialist Esor on Wednesday reported a threefold increase in revenue to R1bn for the year to February as it benefited from commercial and government infrastructure spend and a building upsurge in Angola and Mauritius.

Construction IndustryCEO Bernie Krone said today’s buoyant construction market was the primary driver for the group’s organic growth.

“The Gautrain continues to be a major contributor. We have R400m worth of work for the high- speed train which will be world class, with 14 months’ worth of work,” Krone said.

Of the R420m worth of projects secured, R170m was completed during the year.

“The Gautrain … is stimulating major development within the radius of its stations’ use areas, which will dramatically alter the urban landscape and further boost the construction industry beyond 2010.” The many new developments in the pipeline included high-rise offices, hotels and retail and commercial building projects.

The group has completed piling projects for Airports Company SA at the new King Shaka and Cape Town International Airports and contracts for piling, pedestrian culvert jacking and lateral support at OR Tambo International Airport.

Work on stadiums for the 2010 World Cup has been completed at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and Port Elizabeth Stadium.

Profit came in at R116m from R34m a year before.

Headline earnings per share jumped 240% to R115m, equating to 51,3c per share while net asset value per share increased 46% from 109,8c per share to 160,3c.

The group declared a final dividend of 20c per share for the year for a total of R49,6m.

Krone said the group was entrenching its presence in Africa, building on subsidiary Franki’s foothold in oil-rich Angola. Contracts for piling, lateral support and marine works projects were completed during the year.

Stringent cost control kept operating margins steady despite the negative effect on the group of unusually abundant December rains.

“We did see a slight decrease in margins in the final quarter of the year since excessive rain in Gauteng slowed down projects before and after our year-end break.

“However, a stricter focus on operational efficiencies and aggressive investment in plant helped keep margins on a par with last year,” Krone said.

Esor invested R147,5m in new equipment during the year.

Krone said the current year would be an acquisitive one, but the group would look only at companies that made good business sense and in the geotechnical engineering sector.

 

Monday, 30 July 2007 02:00

Boom time builds up to beyond 2010

Government and private sector infrastructure investments are expected to secure the boom in the construction and building industries until well after the 2010 soccer World Cup, according to industry leaders.

Brian BruceThey said the government's decision to go ahead with a R400-billion infrastructure programme, an even bigger commitment by the private sector and economic growth rates well above 5% a year would buoy the industries and drive the economy.

Brian Bruce, chief executive of Murray & Roberts, predicted the boom would continue long after 2010 and well "into the teens of the 21st century".

He cautioned, however, that there might be some ups and downs in the industry during this period.

But, despite this caution, construction companies are flocking to list on the JSE's alternate exchange, which facilitates listing of small companies.

Since AltX was established almost three years ago, 14 of the 50 companies listed are related to the building and construction sector with interests in home improvements, heavy construction and building materials and fixtures.

Among the bigger groups are Esor, Sanyati Holdings, Afrimat and the Raubex Group. The total market capitalisation of these companies this week was R20.6-billion, according to an AltX spokesman.

And Stefanutti & Bressan, with annual turnover of R1.7-billion, plans to list on the JSEs' main board on Friday after raising up to R465-million by placing 35 million shares. A limited offer of a further 11.5 million shares will be offered to vendors.

The company believes that revenues will grow to R2.5-billion in 2008. In the year to February, the group earned a net profit of R67.2-million, after the cost of BEE involvement, and expects this to grow to R115-million in 2008.

The group has a 15% BEE involvement through Mowana Investments.

Chairman and co-founder of Stefanutti & Bressan, Gino Stefanutti, said the construction industry was experiencing unprecedented growth and that there was "a positive picture of long-term growth for the industry".

Last month, the FNB Civil Construction Confidence Index, compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research recorded another increase.

Cees Bruggemans, chief economist at First National Bank, said that the figure reflected "very favourable business conditions". It is reported that the industry had grown by 13% a year since 2003.

The SA Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors noted that the number of people in the construction industry had risen to 114 000 in the first quarter of this year .

But, the FNB Index found , a shortage of skilled labour was affecting construction activities and impinging on completion times. Training would have to be accelerated to contain construction costs as a result of higher wages .

Power generation, with Eskom looking at another nuclear power station, will also help keep activity high. Power generation infrastructure development will begin in earnest next year and this is a 25-year project.

Transport, water and sanitation, schools and hospitals will need to keep pace with the macro- economic growth, said Bruce.

The attractiveness of the building and construction sector has attracted an unsolicited bid for building materials supplier Iliad Africa from a consortium led by Absa Capital. Talks are continuing.

Last week Iliad said it had acquired the Gauteng-based, R220-million-a-year Thorpe Timbers . Recently, the group bought USM Building Supplies and Lumber City in Lephalale (Ellisras). The combined acquisitions should add R350-million to revenues.


South Ocean, the Johannesburg-based manufacturer of building wires, has spent R10-million on the first phase of its expansion plans by purchasing new machinery that will increase its capacity by 10%.

The company, which was listed in February, has begun the second phase of expansion at a cost of R30-million for new machinery, buildings and working capital, which will add 15% to capacity.

The company recently acquired Radiant Lighting for R485-million, which expands its operations into decorative lighting, lamps and bulbs and electrical products.

Black empowerment group Afrimat announced two weeks ago that it had purchased two quarries and a concrete block-and-brick factory in KwaZulu-Natal, its second acquisition since listing in November. This brings its number of quarries to 22 and brick factories to nine.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 02:00

Esor has R500m in state projects

Civil engineering contractor Esor has scored more than R500m from government's increased spending on infrastructure for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Construction IndustryCEO Bernie Krone said new contracts, including the Gautrain project and the upgrading of the OR Tambo Airport, had swelled the company's order book by R580m, putting Esor firmly on track to achieve targeted growth for the new financial year starting this month.

"We intend leveraging our new directors' network and industry knowledge to drive growth and position the group as a favourite contender for infrastructure contracts," Krone said.

The group has to date tendered for Gautrain contracts to the value of R365m, of which R80m has been secured in two piling projects.

"We are still awaiting a decision on the remaining tenders and are confident of our prospects in this regard," he said.

Other new contracts include R80m worth of contracts for the Airports Company of SA, in line with its R5,2bn intended outlay between 2005 and 2009. Esor has already completed the upgrades at the OR Tambo International Airport and is now extending the Cape Town International Airport.

"Following Esor's completion of the Ushaka Pier marine project, the group is now aligned with the preferred bidder for the Ushaka airport in Durban," said Krone.

 

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