Hill aims big in local construction market

  • Business
  • Saturday, 15 Sep 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's growing construction market, fuelled by projects under the Ninth Malaysian Plan, presents huge opportunities for Nasdaq-listed construction claims and project management firm Hill International Inc. 

The company, which recently acquired James R. Knowles (Holdings) PLC (JRK), plans to expand through its offices in 35 countries, including Malaysia and Singapore. 

Chairman and CEO Irvin E. Richter is impressed with the growth in the local construction industry. 

“Buildings and infrastructure are being developed continuously. The roads are heavily used, which means that they need to be upgraded and expanded. Malaysia is a good market for project management,” he told StarBiz

»Contractors arenot entirelyaware ofpolitical andinsurance risks«IRVIN E. RICHTER

He said the acquisition of JRK was part of Hill International's plan to expand its services to emerging markets in Asia, particularly Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Indonesia. 

JRK is a Britain-based firm that provides technical consulting and dispute resolution services to the construction sector. 

Last September, Hill International paid £7mil cash to acquire over 95% equity interest in JRK. 

Richter said Hill International’s presence in Asia was necessary as the Asia-Pacific market was expected to grow considerably over the next five years. 

“We need to prepare for the growth and provide these markets with the support they need,” he said, adding that the company was working on contracts in Vietnam and China.  

It has also established contracts in the Philippines, Indonesia and Hong Kong. 

Richter said through meetings with local contractors, Hill International found that many Malaysian contractors were unaware of the different risks involved, especially when investing in foreign markets. 

“There is uncertainty in the business culture and contractors are not entirely aware of political risks, insurance risks, and sometimes even the issue of currency risks,” he added. 

Richter said Hill International wanted to provide services to local contractors to bridge these gaps utilising the firm’s extensive network and experience in some 35 countries. 

With the current growth trend in the global construction sector, Hill International would be a US$1bil firm in the next five years, he said. 

Richter expects the Malaysian office, currently recording annual turnover of about RM10mil, to grow in the next two years.  

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