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Ferrovial Says 2006 Profit Tripled

Grupo Ferrovial said Monday its full-year net profit more than tripled, thanks to asset sales and incorporation of recently acquired companies such as British airport operator BAA.

Spain's third-largest construction firm by market value said 2006 net profit rose to 1.43 billion euros ($1.88 billion), from 415.9 million euros in 2005. Revenue rose close to 49% to 12.35 billion euros ($16.22 billion) in 2006, from 8.32 billion euros in 2005.

Ferrovial shares gained 1.6% to 80.55 euros ($106.10) in Madrid.

The company invested close to 4.45 billion euros ($5.84 billion) in acquisitions last year. An expected slowdown in the Spanish housing sector prompted it to exit the real-estate business and look abroad for growth opportunities.

"We haven't entered into new businesses, but we have taken a quantitative leap in our strategy," Ferrovial Chief Financial Officer Nicolas Villen said in a conference call.

Ferrovial led a group of investors in a 10.3 billion pound (15.3 billion euros, $19.5 billion) acquisition of BAA last year. The consortium included Canadian pension fund Caisse de Depot & Placement du Quebec and GIC Special Investments, an investment arm of the Singapore government.

BAA, the world's largest airport operator, manages seven British airports, including London's Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.

Ferrovial also divested some assets late last year to offset higher financing costs linked to BAA's purchase. The company sold its real-estate unit, Ferrovial Inmobiliaria, to Barcelona-based Promociones Habitat for 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion), generating close to 770 million euros ($1.01 billion) in capital gains.

Ferrovial's unit Cintra also sold its 27% stake in highways company Europistas.

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