World Cup challenges: Basil Read Construction.

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The South African construction environment is a paradox of plenty and scarcity. On the one hand, order books have never been as full and on the other constraints on getting the jobs done have never been as frustrating.

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New and made-over stadiums for the 2010 World Cup must be completed, new and upgraded highways and interchanges must be installed, housing schemes are queuing up to be built, hospitals must be erected--and that's just a start.

Obstacles to be overcome include uncertain electrical power supply, lack of professional and artisanal skills, materials shortages--the list goes on. It's against this backdrop that Basil Read construction company is helping to change the country's city skylines and expanding in its role of rounded builder and, more recently, miner. Basil Read was formed in 1952 as a construction company focusing on road building. In the last 52 years it has diversified into a variety of building services that includes civil engineering, roads and opencast mining.

Listing on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange in 1997, it sold off a 52% stake to the French construction titan Bouygues five years later increasing to 70% by 2004. In the same year Bouygues relinquished 51.9% of its holding to a consortium made up of Amabubesi Investments and Metallon, becoming the first truly black economic empowerment construction company with a black shareholding of 42%. Bouygues retains an 18.7% stake.

Last year Basil Read's performance showed remarkable growth, increasing turnover from R1.1bn in 2006 to an anticipated R2bn at the end of 2007. The opening share price at...

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