Contractor Balfour Beatty is to contribute an extra £11m to its pension fund this year to avoid future deficits.
Balfour Beatty was one of a number of contractors that announced earlier this year that it was to close its final salary pension to new entrants, replacing it with a less costly money purchase scheme.

The defined salary fund is in surplus but with a number of employees approaching retirement age the company wants to ensure that it has sufficient money cover its future outgoings. A spokesman said: "The aim is to ensure that long-term assets and liabilities stay in balance."

The news of the pension decision came as Balfour Beatty announced a 6% increase in pre-tax profit for the first half of 2003 on the same period last year. Pre-tax profit rose to £51m for the six months to 28 June this year. Turnover, including joint ventures and associate companies, rose from £1.69bn to £1.74bn.

The company repeated it intention to defend itself vigorously against charges brought after the Hatfield rail crash in October 2000. Balfour Beatty and two former employees face corporate manslaughter charges, and four other employees face lesser charges.

The results announcement stated: "We see no justification for manslaughter charges."

Balfour Beatty also announced that its Capital Projects subsidiary has won a £100m PFI lighting contract from Sunderland council.