Denmark-based design firm COWI A/S has quit "risky" markets in the Middle East and Africa to focus on core regions, including North America, and its new green growth strategy. The company plans to grow 5% a year organically and through selective acquisitions.

COWI revenue rose 2.2% last year to $980 million, generating $53 million in operating profit, excluding costs of a dispute over work on Muscat International Airport in Oman. The firm reported an operating margin of 7.4%, falling to 3.3% due to costs relating to the arbitration, which include expert witness fees .

COWI says it expects arbitration to be completed late this year on a claim it lodged to the Omani government in 2018 as part of the COWI-Larsen Joint Venture. The government lodged a counter claim the following year.

As part of its recently launched green growth strategy, COWI will no longer work on projects that extend the life of fossil fuels. "We have already turned down a number of otherwise profitable projects," said group CEO Lars-Peter Søbye. "Deselecting fossil-fuel projects has consequences for our business, as does our wish to have all of our projects, within three to five years, promote sustainability... but we must be consistent." 

A key win last year was a U.S contract to design foundations for 15-MW turbines at the Empire Wind 1 and 2 offshore wind projects off the Long Island coast, together set to generate more than 2,000 MW of energy. The company also secured a Canadian contract for outline designs of an eight-lane sunken tube tunnel under the Fraser River in Vancouver, British Columbia.

COWI also announced a new chief financial officer for North America. Claire Cobden took the role last month from a previous post as vice president and treasurer at Canadian bank BlueShore Financial.