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Alstom recorded a rise in orders despite the current economic uncertainty, although both sales and profits were down in the first half.
Sales at the French transport and power group dipped 10 per cent to €9.39bn ($13bn) in the six months to September 30, which the group said reflected “the trough in orders” taken during 2009. Net income was €363m, down from €401m for the same period last year.
However, Alstom said orders booked in the first half were up 45 per cent to €10.2bn, in results released after the market closed on Thursday, driven by demand in emerging markets. Despite fears of a global recession, the group had taken “a very satisfying level of orders,” said Patrick Kron, chairman and chief executive.
Alstom is trying to reduce its reliance on its traditional European and US markets to focus on Asia and Latin America. It warned that activity in mature markets “remained slow,” which Mr Kron attributed to a cautious ‘wait and see’ attitude rather than an inability to finance big infrastructure projects.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Mr Kron said he was not worried about the impact of the decisions of Germany and Switzerland to phase out nuclear power following the partial nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan in March.
“Nuclear [activity] represents 4 per cent of global sales and more than half of this is on maintenance, and I don’t see this business fundamentally at risk.
“As for the rest, at the end of the day power is needed, so they will go to other sources. It’s a question of public acceptance – in one country it is accepted, in another rejected,” he added, saying the group’s activities in gas, coal and renewable energy would cater for demand if orders for its steam turbines declined.