* In contact with partners in Japan for salvage work
* Has mothballed Libya harbour project
* Sees shift from Middle East to LatAm, W.Africa, Australia
* 2010 EBITDA up 40 pct to 621.5 mln eur (Rtrs poll 596 mln)
* Will not be able to match 2010 result this year
(Recasts, adds details on Japan, Middle East, share price)
By Sara Webb and Greg Roumeliotis
AMSTERDAM, March 17 (Reuters) - Royal Boskalis Westminster (BOSN.AS), the world’s largest dredger which reported bumper profits for 2010 on Thursday, said it is talking to partners in Japan about possible salvage work following the massive quake.
The Dutch dredging firm warned that given current market conditions and its project-based business, it did not expect to match last year’s record result in 2011, although it was more optimistic about prospects for the next two years as several big infrastructure projects were expected to come to the market.
Boskalis, which relied on infrastructure and land reclamation projects in the Middle East for about a third of its revenue in 2009, said it expected business to shift to Latin America, West Africa and Australia in future, and that it was too soon to predict any possible projects in Japan.
Chief Executive Peter Berdowski said Boskalis had been in contact with its partners in Japan about possible salvage and heavy lifting work in the aftermath of the devastating quake and tsunami, but that prospects for dredging work were “very limited” because of the type of harbours in Japan.
Boskalis has already seen a decrease in turnover in the Middle East, with the region accounting for just 13.8 percent of revenue in 2010, down from 30.4 percent in 2009.
“It’s extremely hard to make predictions about what is going to happen in the Middle East ... The impact so far has been a bit limited,” Berdowski said, adding that the firm had recently mothballed a project in Libya because of the civil unrest there.
Boskalis, which had won a contract to extend and refurbish the breakwater in Tripoli’s harbour, pulled out of the country in the past two weeks and is waiting to return, Berdowski said.
Earlier on Thursday, Boskalis said 2010 core profit rose 40 percent after last year’s acquisition of Dutch peer Smit helped rake in harbour towage, terminals and salvage revenue, driving the share price up more than 4 percent in early trading.
It overcame fleet overcapacity issues and increased its profit margins on the back of improved world trade, strong demand for energy and raw materials, and as oil and gas firms spent more on exploration and production.
“Market prospects for the medium term are favorable, mainly due to large-scale investment plans in the oil and gas industry and global developments in the ports sector,” Berdowski said in a statement.
Annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) came in at 621.5 million euros ($867 million) on revenues that were up 23 percent to 2.674 billion euros. Analysts in a Reuters poll had expected EBITDA of 596 million euros on revenues of 2.655 billion euros.
Belgian holding company Ackermans & van Haaren (ACKB.BR) said earlier this month that the fleet of dredging contractor DEME, in which it has a 50 percent stake, was almost fully used and that it expected similar activity levels in 2011 because of strong and sustained demand. [ID:nLDE7220B9] (Editing by Mike Nesbit and Hans Peters) ($1=.7171 euros)