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Mota-Engil Looking at Africa Projects Worth More Than $5 Billion

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Mota-Engil SGPS SA, the Portuguese construction company that said March 20 it was seeking $5 billion of contracts in Africa, is now looking at an even larger figure, its chief executive officer said.

“The global value of the projects we are studying or have pre-qualified for is now superior to that,” Goncalo Martins said in an e-mailed response to questions yesterday. “Some of those projects will definitely be awarded to us.”

Mota-Engil is among Portuguese builders expanding in Africa and Latin America as Portugal cuts spending to comply with terms of a 78 billion-euro ($101 billion) bailout. The company, which reported a 22 percent increase in first-quarter net income yesterday, said in March it planned to enter new markets in Africa, including Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya.

With operations in more than 20 countries, Portugal’s biggest construction company is “confident” it will meet its year-end goal of an order book exceeding 3.5 billion euros, said Martins. The order book was 3.4 billion euros at the end of March.

“The first-quarter results enable us to reaffirm all of our forecasts for the year and reinforce our expectation of complying with our strategic plan,” Martins said.

Mota-Engil has already carried out the sale of non-essential assets this year, although gains obtained from these deals have so far been small, said Martins, declining to give details.

Mota-Engil is also monitoring demand to decide when to advance with a sale of convertible bonds, he said.

Companies including Air France-KLM Group, Europe’s largest airline, Eni SpA, Italy’s biggest oil company, and Spanish hotelier Melia Hotels International SA, raised $10.1 billion from the sale of these bonds in the first quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the biggest first-quarter figure since 1999, when Bloomberg began compiling records.

Mota-Engil said on April 16 it may sell as much as 80 million euros in convertible bonds this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henrique Almeida in Lisbon at halmeida5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerrold Colten at jcolten@bloomberg.net

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