Considering that we are just coming through one of the deepest recessions in living memory, the market has held up for Arup at a global level, but of course it is far softer in some locations than we would want it to be. Our buildings business is very buoyant in China and some other Asian economies, but inevitably less so across Europe.
We have completed quite a few high profile projects recently from the various impressive developments at King’s Cross in London to the International Finance Centre in Guangzhou in China. Building opportunities associated with transport infrastructure are still promising, but the question now is how well that holds up in the medium term given the economic uncertainty that persists, especially in the major economies of the West.
There are still quite a few quality projects coming through at the higher end of the market where we operate, but there’s no doubt that the economic situation has made some investors more risk averse. Equally, some of the cultural projects we’ve been doing such as the new Acropolis Museum in Greece obviously wouldn’t stand much chance of progress today in the current climate.
However, there is a great opportunity right now for sovereign funds, governments and major corporate and institutional investors sitting on large cash piles to take advantage of low interest rates and a very competitive construction market.
As you might expect, we forecast a slower, but steady, upturn in the more mature economies in North America and Western Europe. At the same time, we are looking forward to some welcome growth in the developing economies.