PF Archive

A contracting market

01 12 2001

If there has to be a single reason why the balance of power seems to have shifted from EPCs ? engineering, procurement and construction companies ? to power project sponsors it is that those sponsors usually are better capitalised. But that's not the end of the story. Projects are being completed faster, requiring large EPCs with costly overhead to book more business in an environment of fewer deals and with more of the work on particular projects being taken on by project sponsors. The nature of the business has changed so that contractors often are relegated to the role of assemblers, with turbines and other integral parts of projects being provided by sponsors and brought to construction sites. Ratings on engineering and construction companies run the gamut, with the highest rated company having an ?A+? rating, and lowest at ?B-?. I believe the median rating on the approximately 40 global construction companies we follow is ?BB,? according to Joel Levington, an analyst in corporate ratings who covers the engineering and construction for rating agency Standard and Poor's. ?As for the reducing number of construction companies, there has been a lot of industry consolidation over the past few years, although the industry is highly fragmented, with the largest construction firm accounting for less than 2% market share in the US. When it comes to power plant construction, however, there are basically three real choices ? Bechtel, Fluor, or Shaw Group,? Levington said. Levington said that, in general, he would disagree with the assertion that...