* H1 net profit at 133 mln euros vs loss of 28 mln a year ago
* Shareholders expected to clear tie-up with Salini in Sept (Adds details, background)
MILAN, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Italian builder Impregilo reported a first-half net profit, up from a loss the previous year, boosted by higher revenues and a strong performance from its construction unit.
The group, which operates in more than 30 countries, said on Monday that net profit for the six months ended June was 133 million euros ($176 million), up from a loss of 28 million, while sales rose to 1.164 billion euros from 1.112 billion.
In the 2012 comparison period, net earnings were hit by difficulties with construction projects in Colombia and work on expansion of the Panama canal, which resulted in unforeseen costs that were fully accounted for last year.
Impregilo, which is completing a tie-up with its peer Salini, said its total order book stood at 20.2 billion euros at the end of June and it was on track to meet, or in some cases exceed, annual targets under its 2013-2016 business plan.
“We’re meeting all stated commitments to acquire new, large contracts... collect the claims due and reorganize the group, as well as achieve a net financial position better than that expected by the end of 2013 within the Salini Impregilo business plan,” CEO Pietro Salini said in a statement.
The merger with Salini is set to create a global construction player focused on large civil engineering projects from roads to hydroelectric dams in over 60 countries, including the Middle East, the Americas and Australia.
It is expected to help both companies compete on foreign markets at a time when the Italian economy is mired in its longest postwar recession.
While shareholders are expected to clear the merger only in September, the two companies have already set up joint structures to bid for tenders under the name Salini Impregilo.
Among others, a consortium led by Salini Impregilo last month won a $6 billion contract to build part of a subway system for the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, in a deal which the builder said showed the benefits of the merger.
Impregilo’s shares are up 37 percent so far this year, outperforming a 14 percent rise in the Dow Jones global industrials index. ($1 = 0.7553 euros) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Anthony Barker)