PRESENTING Alstom’s first annual accounts following flotation last June, Chairman & CEO Pierre Bilger told his board of directors on May 25 that the year to March 31 1999 had been ’a year of solid results’. He highlighted the ’benefits of Alstom’s focus on the high-margin segments of its portfolio, and the success of company-wide cost efficiency programmes.’

Alstom Transport recorded a 14% growth in orders, on top of 72% in the previous year. Orders included Virgin West Coast tilting trains, double-deck coaches for Amtrak California, metro cars for Warszawa, Singapore and Shanghai, a suburban line in Fortaleza and trams for St Etienne, Montpellier and Lyon.

Bilger admitted that the 15% increase in sales included acquisitions during the year, notably Sasib, Wessex Traincare and De Dietrich. Cost reduction efforts and the delivery of the first standard trainsets had helped improve the operating margin from 5·3 to 6·0%, as had a focus on higher-margin activities such as signalling and customer service.

Alstom Transport orders totalled 3479m euros and sales were 3516m; 21·9% and 25% of the group results respectively. At the end of the financial year, the Transport order backlog was 7223m euros, or 34% of the group total of 21016m.