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EP_19.jpg Nov/Dec 2005
Cover Story
Case Study
Lead 2
ALE
Bilfinger Berger
Arnold Laver Group
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MOVING OFFSHORE
Bilfinger Berger is a leading German construction company with international operations.

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04.jpg Bilfinger Berger supplies comprehensive solutions in the building, industrial services and infrastructure sectors both in Germany and internationally. As well as its core business of building and civil construction, the company’s range of services consists of the development, design and financing of facilities, including their turnkey construction, maintenance and then operation.

Bilfinger Berger has global representation, on all continents, through branch offices and affiliated companies. The company has maintained its successful progress, boosting its operational profit yet again in the year 2004.

“Consolidated turnover reached 6.9 billion euros,” explains Michael Neumaier, tender manager of Bilfinger Berger. “A sound financial position and the capital structure of Bilfinger Berger provide the basis for sustained long-term success.”

The Bilfinger Berger Group takes on demanding construction contracts for clients in both the private and public sectors. The company’s construction markets are regional in nature. Consequently, the Group's global presence is based on a decentralised corporate structure. Bilfinger Berger utilises reliable and fair partnering for large and complex construction projects; worldwide presence offering multi services; international project experience and staff resources; extensive experience in partnerships and joint ventures; and substantial state-of-the-art equipment for high-performance construction.

Michael works in the group’s civil business, which he was more than happy to talk further about. “The Civil business segment encompasses all Group activities in this area of the construction industry. The company is among the leading players for major civil engineering projects nationally and internationally. In Australia, for example, we have been represented by Boulderstone Hornibrook. In 2003, we stepped up our presence through the takeover of Abigroup, which is active predominantly in the engineering and road construction sector.”

He continues. “The German construction industry has been in steady decline over the last decade, and we have no doubt suffered as a consequence. Bilfinger Berger tried to find its way out of this difficult domestic market, diversify and forced its international activities. Today, approximately only 35 per cent of our total business activities occur within the domestic market.”

Bilfinger Berger’s Building and Industrial business segment brings together the activities of the Building division in Germany and the building and industrial construction operations of all of its foreign companies. In addition to turnkey construction, within this segment Bilfinger Berger offers its clients an especially comprehensive range of services encompassing development, financing, maintenance and operation.

“We split our activities not only to have a focus in the construction industry, but also to have a focus in other related business segments,” Michael adds. “The Concessions business segment brings together Bilfinger Berger's private-sector concession business, which is enjoying a sustained period of expansion. The focus is on transport infrastructure and public sector building projects. We also utilise the service companies Rheinhold & Mahla and HSG. These companies are at the heart of the new Services business segment. They act as a springboard for the further systematic expansion of activities in the areas of industrial and real estate services.”

Hans Kahle, in charge of Bilfinger Berger’s offshore activities, tells us more about the bulk of work that Bilfinger Berger has completed in the past few years: “We have been focusing on offshore works as the offshore industry, particularly wind energy, is a developing sector. New found environmental consciousness means that this an emerging market, and we will do our best to bring our resources to help solve some of the issues in this sector.”

One such offshore project is the research platform FINO1 in the Northern Sea, Germany, the first structure for the offshore wind industry and with a challenging water depth of 28m. Bilfinger Berger was responsible for the engineering, fabrication and installation of the steel jacket structure including platform deck, heli-deck, Met Mast, mechanical and electrical machinery. The contract value of this project was approx. 4.5 million euros.

Hans comments: “The equipment needed for such projects is extremely expensive, so the market is restricted to big, multinational companies with strong and sound financial stability. As a result, the competition is not as furious as in general engineering sectors. He continues. “We have a long history of offshore works and have always completed pioneering projects for the German offshore and international markets. We believe that Bilfinger Berger could be a strong partner for clients in this field, and we feel we have sufficient strength and a sound reputation, which reflects the complexity and magnitude of such challenges.”

Michael talks further about the challenges Bilfinger Berger faces in the future: “I think the challenge within the domestic market is to continue with training our employees and to develop our equipment and techniques. If we are able to do this then I think we will be commercial winners. This will give us a big advantage in tendering for difficult projects. As Bilfinger is working mostly with its own equipment, we have gained the relevant knowledge and subsequent skills to enable us to work in some very challenging environments.”

Bilfinger Berger has also expanded its portfolio of Public Private Partnership (PPP) concession projects, an area of growing interest for the group. Indeed, Bilfinger Berger recently signed a concession agreement with the State of Victoria for the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne.

“PPP is a growing area of interest within our concessions business,” confirms Michael. Michael concludes: “I believe Bilfinger Berger has achieved a good balance between its split resources on the domestic and international markets. I think that the domestic market is a challenging market and to be successful in that market we have to be very good. We have a superior technical knowledge coming from our domestic market and have been successful in transferring this onto the international scene.”  CT-E

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