German contractor restructures its British operations as it gears up for large infrastructure contracts
German contractor Bilfinger Berger will shed up to 90 people as part of the reorganisation of its British operations.

The company will reduce the operations of its Chertsey office in Surrey, which concentrates on small construction contracts, as it focuses on large-scale PFI work.

About 20 staff will go in the near future. Peter Horsburgh, Bilfinger Berger UK managing director, said further reductions are planned as the office closes down over the next 18 months. Two-thirds of the 90 employees linked to Chertsey are project staff and will leave when their schemes are completed.

The firm's PFI arm, Bilfinger Berger BOT, currently employs 23 staff in Egham, Surrey, but would be able to increase its numbers if it was successful on a number of key bids in the coming year.

Nick Dawson, BOT managing director, said the firm was interested in schools, healthcare and major infrastructure work.

There are a lot of large-scale projects in the pipeline

Nick Dawson, MD of PFI division

He said: "We are gearing up to tackle large-scale projects. It's certainly the case that there's a very noticeable workload in the education sector and we'll be trying to get into that. There are a lot of things in the pipeline."

Dawson said the firm was trying to get on the shortlists for contracts for the government's £5bn-a-year Building Schools for the Future programme, which involves the refurbishment of every secondary school in the country.

Although BOT is also looking to expand its operations in the healthcare PFI sector, it does not yet have the resources for a big hospital project. Both its smaller-scale LIFT projects, one at Liverpool and Sefton and the other at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey, are expected to reach financial close before the summer.

The firm also plans to get into the burgeoning market in big PFI infrastructure projects. Horsburgh said Bilfinger was preparing to become involved with significant infrastructure schemes such as Westlink Road in Belfast and the second Tyne Tunnel in Newcastle.