November 17, 2016 / 8:06 AM / 3 years ago

Engineer WS Atkins expects to benefit from Trump infrastructure boost

(Reuters) - British engineering firm WS Atkins expressed optimism over its medium-term outlook on Thursday, saying it should benefit from plans by both U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the UK government to increase spending on infrastructure.

Shares in WS Atkins have risen more than 6 percent since the election last week of Trump, who has pledged infrastructure spending of $1 trillion.

“There is a strong intent by the governments, be it the new administration of president-elect Trump or be it here in the UK to continue to be steadfast or even significantly increase investment into infrastructure ... that plays very much into our strengths,” Atkins’ Chief Executive Uwe Krueger said on Thursday.

Even before the U.S. election, about $9 billion dollars was approved for spending in some of Atkins’ geographies such as Nevada, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, Krueger told Reuters.

“That gives us optimism,” he said.

The company gets almost a fifth of its revenue from North America, while Britain and the rest of Europe account for over half.

The UK government is expected to announce more spending on home building and infrastructure projects in its budget update on Nov. 23.

Krueger said Brexit could have a “slightly positive effect” on the company’s UK business longer term give the government’s “steadfastness” in infrastructure spending, but he also reiterated Atkins’ warning just before the June vote that leaving the EU would restrict its ability to hire top engineers.

“We need to find a way for an international UK engineering company like ours that can continue (to hire top engineers from European colleges), otherwise we will face shortages like for example regards the population of nuclear engineers,” Krueger said.

Britain gave the go ahead in September to build the country’s first new nuclear plant in decades, Hinkley Point C, and other new projects are expected.

“As you can imagine, the decision pro Hinkley point C, and all the other kind of nuclear work that is coming with it, all the other reactors, we need more nuclear engineers in this country and we don’t produce enough out of colleges here in the UK,” Krueger said.

Atkins, which counts <BP BP.L> and Britain’s Network Rail among its clients, worked on London’s 2012 Olympic site as well as a renovation of New York’s Statue of Liberty and designed the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.

This year, strong growth in Europe and North America as well as benefits from acquisition of nuclear energy business PP&T and favourable currency effects, sent its underlying profit up 10.7 percent to 65.3 million pounds in the six months ended Sept. 30, it said on Thursday.

The company’s Middle East and energy markets proved to be weak spots in the first-half, reflecting tough conditions that lead to restructuring costs.

Atkins’ shares where down marginally at 1651 pence at 1006 GMT. ($1 = 0.8043 pounds)

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair and Susan Fenton

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