Austrian Construction Company Insolvent After Louvre Abu Dhabi Payment Issues
By Dennis Mao
Waagner-Biro, the Austrian steel engineering company that constructed the perforated metal dome of the Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, declared insolvency in a press release dated November 7. According to Austrian press reports, budget overruns and delayed payments for the Louvre Abu Dhabi project were among the reasons cited by Waagner-Biro for its dire financial situation.
On October 23, the company announced that one of its subsidiaries, SBE Alpha, had filed for bankruptcy. In the ensuing weeks, the company confirmed that Waagner-Biro, the non-operating holding company of the Waagner-Biro Group, was also insolvent. The company had been dealing with payment issues for the Louvre Abu Dhabi project since April 2018. According to Waagner-Biro, the order value of the Louvre project was EUR 80 million (USD 90.9 million), but the company reportedly had to cover increased costs after the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority-held Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) refused to pay the full price. TDIC has yet to respond to Waagner-Biro’s allegations of non-payment.
Waagner-Biro is in negotiations with various parties to keep parts of the company afloat. A subsidiary named Waagner-Biro Austria Stage Systems has been purchased by businessman Erhard Grossnigg for an undisclosed price and is undergoing restructuring.
The 164-year-old Waagner-Biro company gained international renown for its work on a number of prestige projects, including the installation of stage engineering at the Sydney Opera House and the State Opera House in Berlin, as well as construction for the dome of the Berlin Reichstag, and the roof of the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court at London’s British Museum.
Dennis Mao is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
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