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Written by: Staff
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SINGAPORE, Mar 6 (Reuters) Indian construction firm Patel Engineering Ltd. said on Monday it expects new orders worth 20 billion rupees ($452 million) for 2006/07, adding that current orders on hand are worth over 43 billion rupees, or almost $1 billion.

The firm also said it expects turnover of 10 billion rupees in 2005/06. ''Order book today should be in excess of 4,300 crore (43 billion rupees), that is almost one billion U.S.

dollars,'' Rupen Patel, managing director of the firm, told Reuters on the sidelines of an Indian investor conference in Singapore.

''The company targets would be at least picking up another 2,000 crore (20 billion rupees) of work (in 2006/07).'' The new orders will come from irrigation, hydroelectric and highway projects, mostly in India.

The civil engineering firm designs and builds hydroelectric projects, commercial buildings, industrial complexes, dams, tunnels, bridges, flyovers and highways in India and abroad.

Patel Engineering's shares -- 65 per cent of which are held by its founders -- have soared more than 20-fold from less than 20 rupees in 2003 to more than 440 rupees early this year, on the back of India's infrastructure boom.

Patel said foreign investors now own 10 per cent of the share capital, with about half of that held by U.S. funds group Fidelity. Others include U.S. bank Morgan Stanley and the Indian joint venture with British insurer Prudential.

The company's market cap now stands at $525 million. The shares trade on a historic price-earnings multiple of 38, compared to 28 for other Indian companies in the FTSE Other Construction Index. Its price/book ratio stands at 18, compared to a sector average of 5.

REUTERS SD DS1607

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