Chief executive Mike Welton calls for decisive action from government as he reports 69% rise in pre-tax profit.
Balfour Beatty chief executive Mike Welton this week hit out at uncertainty surrounding the £20bn part-privatisation of the Tube.

Welton, whose group is in the Metronet consortium bidding for one of the packages, also warned the DETR not to give too much ground in negotiations with the Greater London Authority.

Welton said: "We are frustrated by the situation. It is clear that political differences need to be resolved so we can get on and procure the capital works everybody knows are so clearly needed.

"A compromise is not necessarily the right way forward. It might resolve a difference but it might not be the right for the subject in question. A fudge made between the parties might not solve the problem." Welton was speaking as his group saw pre-tax profit jump 69% to £86m for the year to 31 December 2001. Turnover increased £220m to £2.56m.

The rise in profit came despite an £8m loss in the UK rail maintenance division. Welton put this down to low margin contracts and to the concentration on the rail recovery programme following the Hatfield rail crash.

He predicted that UK maintenance would return to profit next year, saying: "The new contracts [in place in April] are a sensible way forward and will mean we will work together with Railtrack. I think there is a good future in maintenance." The firm, responsible for maintenance on the east coast line, refused to be drawn on liabilities for the Hatfield crash and hit out at attacks on its role in the accident.

A spokesman said: "There has been much premature and often misleading speculation. Balfour Beatty had recommended replacement of the rail in question some time prior to the accident." Welton said the firm did not have major concerns about a downturn in the USA where the firm's main work is in infrastructure. He said: "The economy will not impact on federal public infrastructure spending. Last time, there was a downturn in the US they increased spending on public infrastructure." Analysts cautiously welcomed the results, which saw Balfour's shares rise 9.5p to 154p.

One analyst said: "It's a case of steady progress – nothing dramatic. It is not reinventing itself like an Amec. It does not want to let go of some of the old parts of its business, such as civil engineering, which are slowly evolving."