AMSTERDAM Dutch group Boskalis (BOSN.AS), the world's largest dredging company, is looking to Latin America and Asia for growth as the euro zone crisis has dampened spending on infrastructure projects at home, its chief executive said on Thursday.
With European sales now accounting for less than a third of the business Boskalis hopes to take a share of new projects in Brazil, Southeast Asia and Africa as well as in Mexico, where major plans to open up oil and gas production to foreign companies is expected to benefit its offshore oil industry services business.
If successful, the overhaul announced on Monday by President Enrique Pena Nieto would mark the largest private sector opening in decades for Mexico's energy industry, which was nationalized in 1938 and is controlled by state monopoly Pemex.
"You will see many tens of billions worth of new investments and if we can take a share of that pie that would be nice," Chief Executive Peter Berdowski told reporters, referring to opportunities in Mexico.
"For us it could mean a market of hundreds of millions," he said.
He was speaking after Boskalis reported a higher than expected first-half net profit, up 20 percent from a year earlier after a recent acquisition. The company said it expected a record full-year result of at least 330 million euros ($437.8 million), compared with 250 million euro in 2012.
Its shares were trading unchanged at 29.97 euros by 0820 GMT (4:20 a.m. EDT).
Boskalis, which bought Dutch maritime transport group Dockwise DOCKW.AS DOCK.OL for 733 million euros earlier this year, reported a net profit in the first six months of 123 million euros on sales of 1.6 billion euros, up from 102 million on sales of 1.4 billion in the same period last year.
Analysts in a poll commissioned by Reuters had on average expected a net profit of 118 million euros on sales of 1.624 billion euros.
A major shift in business saw sales in Europe shrink from 43 percent of group sales in the first half of 2012 to 29 percent in the first half of this year.
"At the moment we are seeing more opportunities for growth outside Europe," said Berdowski. "There was a huge shift in the first half of the year and we expect this will continue."
($1 = 0.7538 euros)
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Greg Mahlich)