Kier first-half profit falls on weak construction business

Feb 28 (Reuters) - British construction and real estate group Kier Group Plc reported a 21 percent fall in first-half profit due to weakness at its construction business.

Underlying pretax profit for the July-December period fell to 27 million pounds ($41 million) from 34 million pounds a year earlier.

Kier's construction business offers engineering and contracting services for infrastructure and building projects, while the property business builds affordable and private houses and invests in office, industrial and retail properties.

The group, whose activities range from building power stations to providing outsourcing for local councils, said in November it was reviewing its construction unit.

Overall revenue fell 7 percent to 976 million pounds, while revenue in the construction business fell 13 percent to 627 million pounds.

A big drop in construction activity was a major factor behind Britain's recession in late 2011 and the first half of 2012 and the economy contracted again in the last three months of 2012, raising fears of another recession.

Shares of the company, which has a market value of 535 million pounds, closed at 1346 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.