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May 27 (Bloomberg) -- Orascom Construction Industries, the Middle East’s largest publicly traded builder, said first-quarter profit advanced 10 percent after an increase in orders for infrastructure work in the region.

Net income climbed to $116.6 million from $105.7 million a year earlier, the Cairo-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Sales rose 19 percent to $985.5 million. The consensus estimate among analysts was for a first-quarter profit of $119.7 million and revenue of $1 billion, Orascom said.

“Infrastructure is a growth area and will continue to be so this year in the Middle East,” Nassef Sawiris, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview today.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2010 will exceed the company’s 2007 record, which included its cement holdings at the time, Sawiris said.

Orascom obtained $790 million in new construction work this year, of which 62 percent was in infrastructure, the company said. That included a $330 million award for the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi and $80 million in contracts from the Egyptian Housing Ministry for water pumping station works. The company’s order backlog has decreased 2.3 percent to $6.5 billion since Dec. 31, according to the statement.

The company will complete its acquisition of Royal DSM NV’s Agro and Meamine business on June 1 following European Union approval May 25. The purchase will allow the company to acquire additional customers for fertilizer in Europe, Orascom said.

Orascom also plans to sell 1.65 billion Egyptian pounds ($291.6 million) of bonds in June after it’s approved by the market regulator, Sawiris said. The sale will be managed by EFG-Hermes SAE, Egypt’s biggest publicly traded securities broker.

Shares of Orascom Construction declined 0.3 percent to 238 Egyptian pounds at 12:13 p.m. in Cairo, valuing the company at 49.2 billion pounds ($8.69 billion).

To contact the reporter on this story: Mahmoud Kassem in Cairo at Alaa Shahine in Cairo at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at

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