PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) - Vinci, Europe's biggest construction and concessions company, on Friday said its order book was building up, notably in France, after reporting a 1.5 percent decline in first-half revenue.
First-half operating profit rose 11.7 percent to 1.72 billion euros ($1.91 billion) on revenue of 17.6 billion euros, helped by a firm grip on expenses. The company also confirmed its target of lifting earnings in 2016.
The performance compares with first-half forecasts of 1.705 billion euros for operating profit and 17.6 billion euros for sales, based on Thomson Reuters polls.
Vinci is part of a consortium, including state bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations and Credit Agricole's insurance arm Predica, which this week won a controlling stake in France's Lyon-Saint-Expury airport.
France is selling the stake as part of a broader programme of privatisations in recent years to raise cash to help meet budget deficit targets.
Looking forward, Vinci said it expected its motorway revenue to grow at a slightly higher rate than last year and its airport revenue to remain steady.
"In a market that is stabilising in France and remains uncertain in some countries outside France, the priority of the group's companies is still to improve margins in a highly competitive environment," Vinci said in a statement.
To counter the slump in French construction, Vinci has expanded into faster growing and more profitable concessions such as airports notably abroad and in motorways as well as in energy engineering. ($1 = 0.9026 euros) (Reporting by Astrid Wendlandt and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Andrew Callus and Gopakumar Warrier)