Dutch parent group discusses ways of pulling out of Britain after subsidiary loses £32m in six months.
Ballast Nedam executives are locked in talks with the management of UK subsidiary Ballast after it was revealed that Ballast lost £32m in the first six months of the year.

Ballast Nedam announced two weeks ago that it was abandoning its "two-home market strategy" and would withdraw from the UK to focus on the Dutch market.

The UK subsidiary lost £1.9m during the same period last year and £20.4m for the whole of last year. Ballast Nedam wants to sort out as many of the problems as possible at the UK firm before it pulls out. The group says the problems are restricted to Ballast's southern regions.

A Ballast Nedam spokesperson said discussions between Ballast Nedam board members and Ballast executives, including chief executive Philip Cooper, had been taking place at the UK division's headquarters in west London.

German contractor Hochtief, which owns 48%

of Ballast Nedam, has also taken part in the talks.

Ballast will trade as normal while these go on.

The spokesperson denied reports that Ballast Nedam had decided to close Ballast's struggling southern division or sell the profitable northern and PFI arms. He said: "It is still very early and nothing is ruled in or out. Whatever action is needed to leave the UK in the right state will be taken. It's a controlled withdrawal.

Several firms, including Hochtief, are understood to be interested in buying parts of Ballast. The spokesperson added that Hochtief had been involved in the discussions because of its major shareholding in Ballast Nedam, not because it wanted to buy Ballast.

"Hochtief has been meeting as a shareholder.

All shareholders have been approached – but that's not to say things cannot change. We do not know Hochtief's long-term intentions," the spokesperson said.

Ballast Nedam's UK losses contributed to an overall loss of £67m in the six months to 30 June, compared with a £32m loss last year. Ballast Nedam's UK turnover in the first six months of the year rose from £133.3m to £158.9m and group turnover increased £40m to £622m.

Ballast Nedam's international division reported a loss of £33.8m but the rest of the group's operations, including contracting and dredging, were profitable.