Balfour sells facilities arm to the French

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The French will now be in charge of running facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London and hundreds of UK schools and hospitals after Balfour Beatty sold its UK facilities management business to GDF Suez for £190m.

The French giant looks to have secured a cheap deal after the WorkPlace business had been expected to be valued at about £250m.

The division’s other major customers include the taxman, nine major hospitals, 200 schools, 500 government buildings and eight nuclear power plans and the sale price is just £7m short of Balfour’s valuation of the unit’s gross assets as of last December.

WorkPlace generated £482m of revenues last year, with an operating profit of £21m.

But Andrew McNaughton, the chief executive of Balfour, the builder that’s converting the M25’s hard shoulder into an extra lane, said the sale was “an important step in our evolution as we intensify our focus on infrastructure. This transaction has achieved good value.”

Balfour said it would use the proceeds of the deal to reduce borrowings, and over time, to fund investments consistent with the building group’s strategy. WorkPlace has over 9000 employees and Balfour said it would still provide facilities management services to the group’s current portfolio of social infrastructure assets in the UK.