Last updated: February 4, 2013 6:32 pm

Imtech plummets on Polish arm troubles

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By Matt Steinglass in The Hague and Jan Cienski in Warsaw

Shares in Imtech almost halved on Monday after the Dutch infrastructure company announced it will take a writedown of at least €100m following the likely cancellation of two projects and “possible irregularities” at its Polish division.

In a hastily convened conference call on Monday morning, René van der Bruggen, chief executive, said the investor behind the €620m theme park the company had been building had not made prepayments as scheduled and had failed to secure financing for the project.

A renewable energy project has also been scrapped, bringing the total of cancelled work to €757m.

Imtech said it had completed €77m of work on Adventure World Warsaw for which it no longer expects to be paid. The company said the writedown will put the company in breach of its bank covenants, and that it will probably cancel its dividend distribution for 2012.

Imtech said it had postponed the publication of its 2012 annual figures until further notice while it carries out a review of the Polish division. The management of that division has been suspended pending the outcome of the review.

Imtech’s shares closed down 48 per cent at €10.20 on the Amsterdam exchange.

The 240-hectare Adventure World Warsaw is the brainchild of Dutchman Peter Mulder, who has made several investments in Poland, including the construction of a refrigerated warehouse.

In a statement, Adventure World Warsaw said it was not a surprise that the park had not yet attracted project finance. The company insisted that the project development phase of the park will be completed this month, and that financing would be wrapped up by the second quarter of this year.

Poland has a long history of ambitious amusement park projects, none of them yet successful. Investors have been attracted by a country whose 38m people have become much wealthier over the last two decades, but which has no large amusement park – the closest is in Berlin.

A competing €500m project that is supposed to be built about 30km outside of Warsaw is being planned by Israeli businessman Mooky Greidinger.

Many other ambitious projects for rollercoasters and water parks have come and gone over the years, with perhaps the best known being a scheme in the late 1990s that was supposed to be financed by the late pop star Michael Jackson.

Monday’s announcement on Imtech’s troubles in Poland did not directly address many investors’ chief concern, which centre on the company's German division.

Imtech has been embroiled in a testy back-and-forth with analysts since a November report by ABN Amro charged that the German division was having serious problems collecting payments.

Imtech disputed the report’s assumptions but has yet to provide a complete breakdown of the work-in-process figures for its German division.

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