Stefanutti upbeat on Middle East

2009-07-23 16:43

Johannesburg - Construction firm Stefanutti Stocks, previously known as Stefanutti & Bressan, is keeping its focus on the Middle East and gearing up for an economic upswing in the region.

The group, formerly known as Stefanutti & Bressan, acquired Stocks on July 23 2008 for R1.1bn to gain exposure to the Middle East at the time when the industry was at its peak. This led to its name change in September 2008.

Sasfin market expert David Shapiro said even though Stefanutti Stocks is a company which continues to do well, "being in Dubai" could be a concern.

Stefanutti CEO Willie Meyburgh agreed conditions have changed since the merger took place, as Dubai itself was one of the areas hardest hit by the global credit crunch.

Construction firms Group Five and Murray & Roberts lost contracts in this region worth about R10bn.

However, Meyburgh said other areas like Bahrain and Qatar have indicated they're expanding infrastructure.

According to Vestact expert Sasha Naryshkine, Stefanutti has to become involved in these areas because "that's where the money's at".

"There's some good contracts to come; they might not happen this year but we're gearing ourselves up for when they do," said Meyburgh. "Before we bought Stocks it was our long-term strategy to increase the size of the company, to be a larger player in the market, and to get into the Middle East. When Stocks came around, they brought all of that to the table."

Looking at the financial year to end-February 2010, he said the company is considering some other acquisitions.

"But they'll be very, very small," he said. ""We're constantly looking. Even in bad times, we keep looking at ways to grow."