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UPDATE 1-British contractor Kier plans to raise up to $334 mln

(Adds details on outlook, share sale and background)

April 21 (Reuters) - Kier Group said on Wednesday it plans to raise 190 million-240 million pounds ($334.34 million) by offering new shares, as the British contractor looks to cut its net debt and invest more in its businesses to meet near-term targets.

Kier set out the proposal as it reported a pretax profit of 9 million pounds for six months ended Dec. 31, 2020, from a loss of 41.2 million pounds a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, pretax profit fell 9.4%.

The order book stood at 8 billion pounds by the end of the reported period, covering 62% of the revenue target for the year through June 30, 2022, the company said.

The contractor, whose shares have risen nearly 22% this year, also added that it is confident of achieving further progress in line with its expectations.

Kier has been striving to lower its debt burden by suspending dividend for two years, cutting jobs, shutting offices and selling some units, following the collapse of its peers Carillion Plc and Interserve Plc over the past few years.

Last week, the company disposed of its Kier Living business for 110 million pounds, and that is expected to help further in cash generation and reduce its debt pile.

Shares in Kier, whose net debt rose to 354 million pounds at the end of 2020 from 310 million pounds, were down about 1% in choppy trade by 0715 GMT.

($1 = 0.7178 pounds)

Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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