Bovis is to beef up its presence in South America after merging its year-old Argentinian business with Buenos Aires construction and project manager Dictis.

Chief executive Luther Cochrane said he could not divulge the cost of the deal because Bovis is planning a flotation that will separate it from its parent P&O. But he said the move was a springboard to take the group into Chile and Uruguay.

Cochrane said: “We know that as global economic conditions stabilise, there will be tremendous amounts of multinational construction activity in South America.”

Bovis said the new company – to be called Bovis Latinoamerica – will focus on the growing number of multinational corporations investing in the region.

Cochrane added: “Bovis and Dictis together create a powerful combination of local knowledge and international experience. This is exactly what multinational clients are seeking.”

Bovis’ current clients in Argentina include Hongkong & Shanghai Bank and British Gypsum. Existing Dictus customers include accountant Ernst & Young.