By Beatrice Thomas
Construction firm says it has received a sixth of what it is owed in conflict-hit country
US construction management firm Hill International has now recouped $10m of a $60m invoice owed for work in conflict-ridden Libya, it revealed as it announced its 2013 full-year results.
The company posted a net profit of $1.6m for the year, the first time it has been in the black since 2010, on the back of total record revenue of $576.7m, an increase of nearly 20 percent from 2012.
In a results call transcript distributed by Seeking Alpha, Hill president and chief operating officer David Richter said the Middle East accounted for 44 percent of its consulting fees in Q4, up 35 percent on Q4 2012.
Overall business in the region grew by 51 percent for the year, with Richter saying it was heading towards that number again in 2014.
Richter said Hill had now collected almost $10m from Libya, with the most recent payments made mostly in US dollars with a small component in British pounds.
The company finally received a cash payment in Q3 from the Organisation for Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC) comprising 3 million Libyan dinars ($2.4m) to Hill and 800,000 Libyan dinars ($700,000) to tax authorities on Hill’s behalf for its work under the then-government in 2011.
However, with the Libyan Dinar currently unable to be converted to foreign currency, it remained sitting in Hill’s bank account in Libya.
Hill CEO and founder Irvin Richter told Arabian Business in March that despite evacuating 225 people from Libya when the Spring uprisings began in 2011, the company had kept Libyan and some Iraqi staff, who offered to stay, on the payroll in anticipation for when work will resume “in the next two to three months” on projects such as the University of Tripoli and the reconstruction effort.
“You’re dealing with a country that has political instability. You want to get those people off the street – how do you get them off the street? You get them back to work. So, as they get back to work there’ll be less instability, there’ll be less protesting on the streets,” he said.
David Richter said in the results call that it was in active discussions over further payments as well as “several new contracts that we expect will see us return to Libya later this year”.
“While there is no agreement or timetable for further payments from Libya at the moment, we are hopeful that we will receive all remaining money owed to us from the Libyan government during 2014,” he said.
Asked by an analyst about Arabtec’s planned $40bn project with the Egyptian Army, flagged this week, he said a possible venture had not “popped up on my radar screen” but “we’ll certainly look into it”.