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The United Kingdom may be out of Europe but top foreign owned contractors working in the UK are showing no signs of leaving.

Many of the continents biggest contractors are working on billions of pounds worth of major projects in the UK and building up big order books according to market research by Glenigan.

Nearly a fifth of the UK’s top 100 contractors are foreign-owned companies and these 18 companies won £11 billion-worth of work in the UK last year. This includes flagship schemes such as the £1 billion Silver Town Tunnel, where Dutch contractor Royal BAM and Spanish giant Ferrovial are expected to start work this summer (Glenigan Project ID: 09332701).

With a 2019 order book totalling £1.6 billion, Royal BAM is the most successful foreign owned contractor and is ranked fifth in Glenigan’s top 100.

Projects

Another three foreign firms are amongst the UK’s top 10 contractors and 11 of the top 30 contractors have overseas ownership.

Major infrastructure projects moving onto site, such as the £1 billion High Speed Hub at Oak Oak Common in London, where the UK arm of French giant VINCI will start work this year in joint venture with Balfour Beatty (Glenigan Project ID: 17142792), are buoying confidence in UK construction spending.

Glenigan’s economics director Allan Wilén says: “The amount of work that contractors from overseas won in the UK last year shows that irrespective of the consequences of Brexit most of these companies are planning to stay here for the long term.

“Spending on specialist areas of infrastructure from key clients such as the Environment Agency and Network Rail is also proving attractive to overseas contractors with the right skill-base.”

Bouygues and Skanska are well established in the UK, and German construction titan Hochtief is also working here on major schemes, such as the £1 billion London Power Tunnel (Glenigan Project ID: 18044305).

Global market

Major contractors from even further afield are also well established here and with growing workload and big schemes about to start.

Bubbling under

Outside of the Top 100, Glenigan’s market research shows a host of other companies from overseas or with foreign ownership growing in the UK.

Byrne Group is majority controlled by South African construction group Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon.

Team Van Oord from the Netherlands is well established in the UK. Spanish renewable energy specialist Elmya now operates here and Belgian specialist contractor Pellikaan continues to work in the UK and started on a £20 million leisure centre in Sheerwater near Woking last summer (Glenigan Project ID: 18007509).

While uncertainty over trade links remain, UK construction remains attractive for foreign companies.