April 25, 2013 / 4:46 PM / in 5 years

Vinci says construction unit lifts first-quarter sales

PARIS (Reuters) - Vinci (SGEF.PA) posted a 3.4 percent rise in first-quarter sales to 8.4 billion euros ($10.9 billion) as a stronger construction business in Africa and the U.K. as well as the ramp-up of a high-speed rail line in France offset weather-hit activity in Europe.

France’s largest construction and concessions company also said it expects business to be “at least” stable in 2013 before taking the recent acquisition of Portuguese airports ANA or any new deals.

The order intake for construction and road building during the first quarter was 9.1 billion, up 5.5 percent on the same period in 2012, Vinci said.

“Even if a slowdown in order intake is possible for the rest of the year, especially in France, the visibility of the activity level remains good,” the group said in a statement.

Vinci cautioned in February that although the business had started the year with a healthy order book, order intake could slow as the group plans to focus on margins rather than volume when bidding for new projects this year.

    The group operates in two divisions: the construction and road building business, which generates around 85 percent of sales, and its concessions business, where it develops and operates public infrastructure such as motorways, car parks, stadiums and airports.

    Vinci shares closed at 35.50 euros before the release of the sales update.

    Reporting by Elena Berton and Gilles Guillaume; editing by Geert De Clercq

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