March 23 (Reuters) - Britain's Kier Group is on track to meet its full-year expectations, the construction and support services company said on Thursday, as it reported a 4 percent rise in first-half profit and a larger order book.
The company also announced a joint venture with CKH Developments Ltd, an east England-focused housing association and care services provider, which it said would free up funds to invest in other parts of its business.
Kier, whose activities range from building power stations to outsourcing work for local councils, said it would transfer land and residential developments worth 97 million pounds ($121 million) to the joint venture, while receiving a cash payment of up to 64 million pounds.
The company's underlying operating profit rose to 56.5 million pounds in the six months ended Dec. 31, up from 54.4 million a year earlier.
Helped by demand in its regional building and highway services businesses, it reported an order book of about 9 billion pounds, up from 8.7 billion at the end of June.
"The group's breadth provides some resilience against economic uncertainty and we continue to shape Kier to focus on our core competencies," CEO Haydn Mursell said in a statement. ($1 = 0.7995 pounds) (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)