Some of the country’s major construction companies could barely keep their heads above water as weak market conditions persisted in 2018. As the year draws to a close, there is no end in sight for the troubles that have affected some of the big players in the sector, with pressure on margins and lower order books. No joy came during 2018 for the long-suffering shareholders of Aveng, Group Five and Basil Read. Group Five has been preoccupied with mopping up the mess that has become of its once-promising contract to build the $410m independent gas- and oil-fired combined-cycle power plant contract in Kpone in Ghana. For the 2018 financial year, the loss on the project was R1.3bn. Perhaps the biggest news in the sector was German family-owned investment holding firm Aton’s bid to acquire Murray & Roberts (M&R) for R17 a share. M&R rejected the offer, claiming it undervalued its share. The privately-owned Aton is still circling M&R and its mandatory offer to M&R shareholders stands. M&R...

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