Business roundup

The board of French rail and energy group Alstom has unanimously voted to accept an offer from General Electric. US conglomerate GE is bidding $17bn (£10bn) for Alstom's energy business. The deal still needs regulators' and Alstom staff representatives' approval. If approved, the deal is expected to be completed in 2015. Reports say it would be GE's largest ever industrial acquisition.Under the deal, GE will sell its railway signal business to Alstom, and set up three joint ventures with the French company.The joint ventures would cover Alstom's power grid business, renewable operations, and nuclear steam turbines.

Around 400 jobs are to go at the Tata steelmaking plant in Port Talbot, the company has announced. Chief executive Karl Koehler said the changes were vital if the company was to remain competitive. He pointed to the UK's high business rates and "uncompetitive" energy costs as factors in the decision.

Subcontractors are being promised payment within 21 days to encourage them to work on a housing job in Plymouth with national housing charity Chapter 1 ,Construction Enquirer reports. “The project team is offering 21 day payment terms …in the hope that this encourages local SMEs to participate.” 

Britain's recession was not as deep as feared and the economy has already returned to its pre-crisis strength, official growth estimates suggest. The Office for National Statistics said the drop in output in 2009 was not as deep as previously thought. Instead of shrinking 5.2%, GDP contracted by 4.1%. The figures suggest that the economy had already returned to its previous peak during the early months of 2014, economists said, slightly earlier than expectations that the milestone would be reached during the current April to June quarter. 

June data from the Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index signalled a strong rebound in growth momentum across the UK construction sector, driven by faster expansions of housing and commercial building activity. Stronger new order volumes and ongoing efforts to boost operating capacity contributed to the steepest rise in employment levels since the survey began in April 1997. The latest rise in housing activity was the steepest since January. Meanwhile, commercial building activity also increased at the most marked pace for five months in June, which survey respondents linked to improving economic conditions and greater confidence about the business outlook. Civil engineering was the only area of activity to record a moderation in growth, with the latest expansion the least marked since September 2013.  Volumes of new work received by UK construction companies increased sharply in June and at the fastest pace since January. Stronger demand for new construction projects in turn led to a rapid increase in staffing levels, with the rate of job creation accelerating to its sharpest since the survey began over 17 years ago. 

Contractor BAM issued a profit warning of £60M following losses on civils jobs, one in Germany and a UK civil engineering scheme, due to adverse ground conditions. It has announced it will be introducing major cost reduction programme to save £80M by the end of 2015.

A 16-year-old schoolboy has broken the record for the fastest journey from Land's End to John O'Groats - by public bus.Adam Mugliston spent four days and £170 on tickets travelling 1867km miles on 36 different buses to beat the previous record by nearly a day. According to reports, he wants to study transport at University and work with Transport for London.

Galliford Try has bought Miller Construction for £16.57M. Galliford said the price “represents a very attractive valuation” for the £409m turnover business which posted a £4m operating loss last year. Miller Construction chief executive Chris Webster will not be transferring as part of the deal and has left the business.  Total turnover for the combined companies will be £1.25bn.

The Government’s Infrastructure Cost Review programme has delivered 15% of cost savings amounting  to £3.4bn a year on major projects. A report published by the Treasury shows better project planning, alliancing and work bundling has led to savings in the key infrastructure sectors for the third-year running. It said the potential for saving over the next ten years could add up to £50bn.

More than 66,000 jobs have been created in the UK by foreign businesses over the past year, government figures show. More than 1773 projects were set up with the US, Japan, France and Germany leading the way. More than half of the inward investment was in energy or infrastructure schemes.

Amey in joint venture with Carillion has won an additional three contracts with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), with a minimum value of £955.3million and that could be worth up to £2.8 billion including additional services and possible extensions. These contracts take the joint venture contract wins to five and have a combined value of up to £4.5 billion.