By Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch
AMSTERDAM, Aug 11 (Reuters) – Royal Imtech, the Dutch engineering services company, filed for protection from its creditors on Tuesday, overwhelmed by accounting fraud in Germany that triggered three years of operating losses and major asset writedowns.
The company’s operating divisions are now owned by lenders ING Group, Rabobank, Commerzbank and ABN Amro , court-appointed administrator Jeroen Princen told reporters.
Princen said he was “confident that in very short order an agreement can be reached with the banks and a buyer.”
Dutch trading company Pon Holdings and private equity firm Parcom Capital said in a statement on Tuesday that they were in talks to acquire Imtech’s international marine operations.
The problems at the German subsidiary, which filed for insolvency last week, ultimately led to the collapse of the group.
A Rotterdam court granted Imtech NV’s request for protection from creditors on Tuesday, but the company’s 22,000 employees and executive board would remain at work for now.
Imtech generated annual sales of about 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) before accounting fraud emerged at its Polish and German units in 2013.
“The company’s management and employees have tried to leave those problems behind, with the support of shareholders and financiers, and to give the company a future,” CEO Gerard van der Aast, who was appointed after problems came to light two years ago, told reporters.
“That that didn’t succeed is extraordinarily sad.”
Princen said Imtech has outstanding obligations of 1.2 billion euros to its banks. ING, Rabobank, Commerzbank and ABN Amro hold nearly 50 percent of the company’s stock after a share offering flopped last year.
Imtech’s shares have lost almost all of their value, falling from more that 200 euros to less than a euro.
In July, Imtech had said it was close to agreeing 75 million euros in new credit from its banks, but this week said those talks had collapsed.
Imtech Deutschland’s reputation has been further damaged by its involvement in an anti-cartel investigation for allegedly conspiring to overcharge energy company RWE for the building of a power plant.
Unable to find further financing, the German unit — which is a contractor at Berlin’s new airport — filed for insolvency on Thursday.
Imtech is the latest in a series of Dutch companies to run into trouble. Builder Ballast Nedam agreed last month to be bought for 30 million euros ($33 million) after project overruns pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy.
SBM Offshore, which leases floating oil and gas platforms, settled a bribery case with Dutch prosecutors last year for a record $240 million and is still under investigation in Brazil. (Editing by David Goodman and Keith Weir)
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