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Australia helps Wilson Bayly Holmes overcome South Africa weakness

Growth in Africa increased 32% while South Africa’s contribution dropped 6%.

Wilson Bayly Holmes (WBHO) reported a 14% jump in full-year profit on Tuesday, as a favourable market in Australia and growth in its roads and works division offset a fall in revenues at home.

The construction and engineering company, which reported profits of 1 414.6 cents per share, said revenue growth was driven by Australia and the rest of Africa.

Revenue in Australia rose 18%, lifted by strong growth in the building and infrastructure businesses.

While growth in Africa increased 32%, South Africa’s contribution fell 6%, with new road work contracts providing some relief.

“The decrease in local revenue was primarily attributable to lower activity within building markets and the knock-on effect on the construction materials business,” the company said.

South African construction companies have been hit hard in recent years as stagnant growth has affected government public infrastructure spending, prompting the company to seek opportunities elsewhere.

WBHO entered the UK market in 2017 after acquiring a 40% stake in Byrne Group.

In July, the firm – through its UK subsidiary WBHO UK – also spent R600 million ($40 million) to acquire a 60% stake in UK construction firm Russell Limited and a further R62 million for a 31% stake in property developer Russell Homes.

“The construction market in the United Kingdom was identified as offering the most potential at acceptable levels of risk,” the company said.

WBHO declared a final dividend of 325 cents per share, in line with the same period in 2017. 

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It would be interesting and informative to hear more on how WBHO have been able to successfully expand outside of SA, especially, in Australia and the UK, when many other SA companies have battled to do so. Perhaps someone from the company could comment..?

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