China rail builder suspends Libya projects

AFP , Wednesday 2 Mar 2011

State company pulls plug risking billion dollar contracts

State-run China Railway Construction said Wednesday that its billions of dollars of projects in Libya were in jeopardy after it was forced to suspend them as the country is rocked by an uprising.

"Due to increasing turbulence in Libya and attacks against some of the company's camps in Libya, all projects of the company have been suspended," it said in a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

"Given the uncertain situation... the preservation of equipment and materials on site and subsequent development remain unclear," it said, adding that most of its employees in the strife-torn country had been evacuated.

The company has three projects in Libya with a total contract value of US$4.24 billion. Only about a sixth of the work, or $686m worth, has been completed, according to the statement.

The remaining $3.55bn worth of contracts accounted for 2.3 per cent of the company's total outstanding contracts globally, it said.

Shanghai-listed shares of China Railway Construction closed down 3.28 per cent, compared with a 0.28 per cent fall in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index.

The company's Hong Kong-listed shares slumped 7.64 per cent to HK$8.1, compared with a 1.49 pe rcent drop in the broader market.

The company is among a number of Chinese firms that have pulled staff from Libya, where a popular uprising has triggered a mass exodus of foreigners.

China State Construction Engineering, which fell 1.37 pe rcent by midday, said Tuesday a project to build 20,000 homes in Libya, worth 17.6 billion yuan ($1.16bn), was suspended with only half the work completed.

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the nation's largest oil and gas producer, said Monday it had halted production in Libya and evacuated all its employees.

China has launched an air, sea and land operations to evacuate from Libya more than 30,000 citizens, who state media say mostly work in oil, rail and telecoms.

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