Construction giant Amec may increase its stake in French electrical services firm Spie after unveiling a record order book of £5bn.

Amec owns 42% of Spie, with an option to buy the remaining 58% in 2002. However, chairman Sydney Gillibrand has confirmed that this share may increase over the next six months because of its healthy order book.

Unveiling interim pre-tax profit of £32.4m, up from £27.4m in 1999, and turnover up from £1.44bn to £1.69bn, chief executive Peter Mason was bullish about the benefits of the £221m purchase of Canadian engineering firm Agra. The acquisition, in February, led to Amec’s share price falling 25% because the City took a hostile attitude to the buy. But Mason said: “We are now doing work for Fortune 500 firms like SmithKline Beecham that we would never have secured without Agra’s US presence.”

Turnover rose from £422m to £532m in Amec’s services division, which now accounts for about half the group’s work, but margins slipped from 4.3% to 4%.

Finance director Stuart Siddall said Amec also intended to pursue more public-private partnership work.