Business barometer - Laing O’Rourke takes top spot, followed by two affordable housing firms

June proved to be a good month for privately owned firms, as a trio of them dominated the top three places in the barometer.

Laing O’Rourke leaped into pole position after bagging a whopping £580m worth of work last month, some distance ahead of Ardmore on £265m and Apollo on £233m.

For all the gloom surrounding the bombed-out housing sector, there appears to be plenty of opportunity among the debris, provided you look for it in the social housing sector. A&A snapped up housing contracts from the public sector, showing that this is a good foxhole to be in as the credit crunch continues.

Ardmore is in negotiations over a £265m contract to construct a mixed-use development in Stratford, east London, for social housing developer Genesis Housing Group. The scheme will include a 48-storey residential tower alongside a 150-bedroom four-star hotel close to the 2012 Olympic site.

Meanwhile, Apollo, the largest privately owned provider of social housing refurbishment services in the UK, won a £207m contract to carry out improvements to council homes in the London borough of Camden.

Laing O’Rourke jumped from 17 in May to become the top earner in June on the back of two commercial contracts. Last month’s top dogs, Sir Robert McAlpine and HBG suffered the most during June. McAlpine plunged to 17 in the table, with £40m worth of work, while HBG tumbled to 15 on £42m.

Over the year, Laing O’Rourke remains in second place behind Balfour Beatty. Balfour has bagged contracts worth £3.7bn over the past 12 months; June brought it public sector work in the shape of Islington council’s £75m Building Schools for the Future deal.

Laing O’Rourke has trousered £3.4bn over the same 12-month period. Third-placed Kier, whose exposure to the housebuilding sector continues to drag down its share price, has won work to the value of £2.3bn and so keeps just ahead of European giant HBG.

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