Tuesday 11 February 2020 3:11 pm

Shares of HS2 contractors Balfour Beatty, Kier, Costain surge on green light

Shares in British construction giants rose today after Prime Minister Boris Johnson opted to press ahead with the controversial HS2 rail project.

The PM had been under pressure from some in his party to scrap the project after its estimated cost rose to £106bn.

But today he gave the infrastructure scheme the green light, telling the Commons: “You know this country is being held back by our inadequate infrastructure.

Read more: HS2: Businesses react to Boris Johnson’s green light for controversial rail project

“We can try to get by with existing routes from north to south, consign the next generation to overcrowding… or have the guts to take a decision, no matter how controversial.”

Balfour Beatty, which holds contracts for the final section leading into Birmingham, saw its shares rise 2.3 per cent to 279.4p.

Costain, which works with Skanska on London sections of the HS2 track, jumped 5.7 per cent to 205p per share.

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Embattled outsourcer Kier, which holds contracts with smaller firms on the central section of HS2, enjoyed an initial 9.5 per cent jump in the value of its stock.

Balfour Beatty hailed the approval of HS2 as a boon for the UK economy and society.

CEO Leo Quinn said:

As the UK takes its place in global markets, improving our connectivity and competitiveness as a country and revitalising our heartlands has never been more important. Now the UK can clearly demonstrate it has thrown open its doors for business and investment.

HS2 is a bold regeneration scheme that is ready for implementation and provides a true legacy for the generations to come. We must invest in their future: drive new skills and capabilities; turbo charge small businesses across the country and show that the UK is determined to meet its carbon reduction targets.

Welcoming the government’s decision, Mathew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, added: “The Prime Minister’s decision to back HS2 is exactly the sort of bold, decisive action required to inject confidence in the economy.

“It sends the right signal around the world that the UK is open for business.”

Despite giving the scheme the green light, the PM was also critical of how HS2 Ltd had handled the project so far.

Johnson will appoint an HS2 minister to lead the project and control its costs.

Read more: Boris Johnson to appoint minister to oversee HS2 as he gives rail link green light

The decision has also drawn mixed reaction from across the political divide, with local politicians expressing their support, whereas some Tory MPs are deeply unhappy at the decision.

HS2’s costs have spiralled since its original budget of £56bn in 2015. A review led by former HS2 chair Doug Oakervee put the cost at £106bn.