ECONOMY

Tough times for builders

Private building activity this year is expected to be around 4 million square meters, 50 percent down on 2005 levels when the industry peaked, with an upturn not on the cards for several years, according to industry sources. «If the problem was only in building activity, then this forecast could be more accurate. But we have a general crisis in the global economy that has hit equities, commodities and private consumption,» said a building industry source. «A rebound is not reliant just on the sector but on the general economy,» he said, adding that a market upturn is not expected for another three years. A market crisis could also create conditions for merger and acquisition activity in the sector as construction companies strive to survive the downturn. «The duration of the crisis will create problems for companies that have a wide exposure in terms of bank loans. This will open the way for the entry of bigger firms,» the industry source added.