Builders look abroad

The large Greek construction companies have no option but to look for business abroad, as the potential for further growth in Greece has virtually dried up, an industry leader said yesterday. «Generally speaking, most concession projects in Greece have already been awarded. At the same time, competition has stiffened considerably, as attested by the presence of large foreign construction groups in this country. So, inevitably, the emphasis has to be placed on foreign operations,» said Costas Kouvaras, CEO of J&P Avax. J&P Avax already participates in 21 projects in 10 countries, particularly in the Balkans (Romania, Bulgaria and Albania) but also Poland, Cyprus, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. The combined budget of these projects nears 2.8 billion euros, with J&P’s share accounting for 1.2 billion euros. The group’s backlog of projects comes to 3 billion euros, of which 38 percent corresponds to projects abroad. Management is targeting the 50 percent mark in coming years. Tapping its affiliation with the parent company, J&P Overseas, a diversified construction group with huge experience, J&P Avax is pursuing a series of projects in several countries where it has developed good public relations. These include three new projects in Cyprus (Larnaca port and marina, Paphos marina and Paphos-Polis highway), three road projects in Poland and the Sofia metro extension in Bulgaria. The company recently signed a concession agreement for the construction of the new Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, budgeted at 433 million euros. J&P Avax favors concession projects, as these offer wider profit margins over time. Its J&P Development subsidiary is also expanding abroad in the realty sector, with investments in Romania and Poland. In Romania, it expects to obtain licenses for two housing developments in Bucharest, budgeted at a total of 26 million euros. Additionally, it has acquired three pieces of land (one small and two large) in the Romanian capital, as well as 130 hectares near Warsaw, Poland, for the development of which studies are being prepared.