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Bouygues sets targets for Equans after higher 2022 operating profit

FILE PHOTO: Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center, in Paris

By Diana Mandia

(Reuters) -French construction-to-telecoms conglomerate Bouygues said on Thursday it aimed for higher sales this year and next for recently acquired Equans, after reporting a jump in annual operating profit driven by strong performance in all business segments.

The October acquisition of Equans from French power group Engie is a strategic shift for family-owned Bouygues that is already present in civil engineering, construction, media and telecoms sectors and wants to grow in energy transition and services.

The group targets a slight sales increase for Equans in 2023 and 2024, before accelerating organic sales growth to align with market peers from 2025. It aims to increase the unit's current operating margin from activities to 5% by 2027 from 2.3% last year.

The group said it expected 2023 total sales to be close to those of last year, citing an unstable environment marked by inflation, rising interest rates and currency volatility.

It reported sales of 44.32 billion euros ($47.01 billion) in 2022, up 18%, or 8% higher with the fourth-quarter contribution of Equans excluded.

It said its 2022 current operating profit rose 15.8% to 1.96 billion euros. Excluding the contribution of Equans, the operating profit was up 8.9%

Equans became Bouygues' biggest business segment by revenue following its merger with the group's Energies & Services arm, ahead of road-building unit Colas.

The latter had an order backlog of 11.7 billion euros at the end of 2022.

"We had very good momentum in some areas, particularly in the United States, where we began to see the first effects of the Biden plan on infrastructure at the end of the year," Colas CEO Frédéric Gardès said on a call with journalists.

The U.S. government in 2021 signed into law a $1 trillion bill to boost spending on roads, bridges, broadband and other transportation infrastructure.

($1 = 0.9427 euros)

(Reporting by Diana Mandiá in Gdansk; Editing by Milla Nissi and Tomasz Janowski)