Dutch company Ballast Nedam has criticised the performance of Ballast, its UK construction arm, which lost £1.8m in the first half of this year.
A group statement said the UK arm was switching from traditional contracts to higher margin work to offset the losses.

The statement said: "The results are unsatisfactory. The company is shifting its activities to market segments where more added value is required and margins are higher."

The group said that the shake-up of the UK arm would not affect the firm's results this year.

Overall, the construction and dredging group saw turnover stay the same, at £556m, for the six months to 17 June 2001. Pre-tax profit increased 31% to £10.3m.

The group said it expected to increase its year-end profit by up to 30%.

The statement said: "The size, the quality and the growth of the order book give confidence for a further positive development."

The group's strong overall performance was attributed to its Dutch, international and dredging operations.

The group said that it was hopeful that the proposed merger of its dredging operation with HBG's, which is currently subject to court action, would go ahead.