March 5, 2020 / 8:15 AM / a month ago

British contractor Kier's cost-cuts help trim first-half losses

(Reuters) - British contractor Kier Group (KIE.L) reported a smaller first-half loss on Thursday, benefiting from efforts to trim costs by simplifying its operations, sending its shares surging 11%.

Kier has been striving to lower its debt burden by cutting jobs, shutting offices and selling some units to avoid the same fate as peers Carillion and Interserve.

“The decisive cost actions we have taken are now benefiting the group and have more than compensated for the challenging market conditions we experienced in the period,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Davies said in statement.

Kier said construction will start later in 2020 for Britain’s largest infrastructure project by value, the HS2 rail project running between London and northern England.

The company has two civil engineering contracts with France’s Eiffage (FOUG.PA) under the recently approved project.

Kier’s statutory operating loss fell to £24.4 million in the six months ended Dec.31, from £32.5 million a year earlier.

Revenue fell 9% to £1.87 billion.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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