Engineer announces it is chasing debts in war-torn country

WSP has admitted it is owed £5m in unpaid bills and trade debts after withdrawing from Libya.

In an interim management statement released to the City this morning, it said:

“The Group has a number of contracts in Libya where it has worked for many years.  As a result of recent events in that country, we have now exited almost all our staff and, for the moment, stopped work on these contracts. 

“There is currently an asset exposure of around £5m to Libya, largely through trade debtors and unbilled amounts due on contracts, which is being actively pursued,” it said.

After the Libyan civil war began at the end of February, UK firms rushed to leave their projects in the country.

At the beginning of March, rival engineer Aecom said its evacuation would hit its profits by around £9.5m.

WSP also said it was likely to end up with similar results in 2011 as 2010 – last year it recorded a £19.2m pre-tax profit on revenues of £706.9m.

“The Group confirms that overall it expects a similar trading performance in 2011 to that achieved last year although in some regions and sectors there has been  a slower than anticipated start to the year. “

It said the UK public sector work was limited and as a result the company had restructured in the first half of the year.

“In the UK we continue to make steady progress in the private and regulated sectors however the public sector, particularly transportation, remains challenging. This has necessitated additional restructuring action during the first half of this year,” it said.