RATINGEN, Germany Jan 10 German builder
Hochtief, controlled by Spain's ACS, has a
"rough path" ahead in a push to increase earnings, its new chief
"We will improve profitability," Marcelino Fernandez Verdes
told journalists. He said all shareholders would expect the
company to pay a dividend, which it did not do in its last
"It will be a rough path but I am confident that we will
make it," the CEO said.
Verdes -- a close confidant of Florentino Perez, the CEO and
Chairman of Spanish infrastructure group ACS -- in November
replaced Frank Stieler, the last remaining board member from
Hochtief's pre-ACS days.
ACS had gained control of Hochtief in 2011 in a bid to
become less dependent on its Spanish home market.
The appointment was seen as an attempt by indebted majority
owner ACS to make its takeover pay off and also prompted some
speculation that ACS wanted a more radical overhaul.
Hochtief, which also provides industrial services, has
surprised with costly mishaps at risky construction projects and
also had profit warnings at its Australian unit Leighton
Business has perked up in the third quarter, when Hochtief
posted higher than expected earnings and raised expectations for
orders and sales in Asia and the United States.
Verdes said he planned to draw on Hochtief's strong position
in the U.S. market for roads, ports, schools and hospitals, many
of which need to be upgraded.
For Leighton, he ruled out rapid business volume growth
because costly delays at large projects in Asia in the past
meant there was a need for a more careful assessment of risks.
(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi.; Writing by Ludwig Burger.
Editing by Jane Merriman)