Leighton cementing its Asian engineering ties
LEIGHTON Asia is an Australian general civil engineering contractor operating throughout the region with its head office in Hongkong and a branch office in Thailand.
A lot of the company's work in the territory has been for the Hongkong Government Housing Authority.
Housing Authority projects for which it has been responsible include 14 tower blocks at Chuk Yuen and another 10 at Ma On Shan.
''We have done more government work than private work because we wouldn't be so competitive for individual private blocks,'' said Mr John Faulkner, Leighton Asia's managing director.
''This situation is exactly the opposite in Thailand, where all the work is for the private sector.'' The company has just completed the joint venture construction of a sewage treatment and disposal plant on Stonecutters Island.
Despite delays in awarding most of the Port and Airport Development Strategy (PADS) projects, Leighton Asia won the contract to carry out advance earth works for Route 3 - the Lantau fixed crossing interchange on Tsing Yi Island.
Route 3 is the major route which will cut across the western New Territories to the border with China, and Leighton Asia is tendering for other contracts along the route.
The company also has a 60-per cent share in Leighton Bruckner, a company which specialises in foundation work.
In addition to these projects, others have also been undertaken in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Leighton Asia has just received approval from the Vietnamese Government to set up a joint venture there, the first international company to get approval to carry out construction and infrastructure projects.
The firm was first established in Hongkong 18 years ago to undertake infrastructure work and it is now qualified to do any government work.
It has undertaken turnkey projects such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT) construction at Tuen Mun.
Mr Faulkner said that China was becoming more interesting now.
''We have been cautious, and haven't tried to win any contracts so far, although we have recently been awarded a couple of management projects just across the border,'' he said.
''The first is to manage the construction of a very large hi-tech factory in Shenzhen, and the second is management of a golf clubhouse construction in Guangdong, just north of Shenzhen.'' He said these were not large projects and they were difficult to come by.
Mr Faulkner said he had concentrated on building up the business in Thailand, partly to take advantage of the phenomenal growth there, but also to diversify geographically. He said this policy had worked.
''Turnover in Hongkong last year [1991/92] was $1.3 billion. We expect to be down on that this year, but up overall because of our work in Thailand,'' he said.
Mr Faulkner is actively pursuing work in China and concentrating on Guangdong.
He accepted there would be lower financial returns but a greater return in knowledge.
He also planned to follow existing clients into China but acknowledged that building up business there will be a slow procedure.