Czech engineering jewel VPE snapped up by local buyer

Photo: Official website of VPE

One of the biggest specialist Czech engineering companies, Vítkovice Power Engineering (VPE) has been saved after its purchase as a going concern by a local real estate group.

Photo: Official website of VPE
VPE was declared bankrupt by a court on August 7 after long running efforts to thrash out a restructuring plan were judged by top managers to be doomed to failure.

A bankruptcy manager, David Vondravec, took up the reins and within a relatively short time a buyer committed to keep the company going and keep on the 600 or so staff has been found.

The white knight comes in the form of Czech-based Taxton Property, a real estate daughter company which belongs to the group Franco de Pois d’ Eau & Cie. Despite the foreign sounding name, the latter is also registered in the Czech Republic with real estate declared as its main activity as well and no declared assets abroad.

VPE’s core business is the design and construction of power plants. It specialises in particular in some of the key core processes of Soviet-designed VVER nuclear reactors and, ahead of bankruptcy, had ongoing contracts in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Russia.

Should the Czech Republic push ahead with plans for new nuclear plants, VPE, formerly part of the biggest Czech engineering group in the country, Vítkovice Machinery Group, could be expected to take part as one of the local suppliers that would be sounded out and the Czech government would seek to maximise.

Representatives of the new owners, Taxton, envisage an up to two-year restructuring for VPE. Existing jobs for the moment seem to be assured, with bankruptcy manager Vondravec saying that guarantees on the that front were one of the reasons that Taxton was chosen as the successful bidder.

The future of other parts of VPE, including the daughter company making large steel buildings, bridges, and other constructions still appears uncertain.

VPE started to run into financial problems over its role as the man contractor for the construction of Turkish coal-fired power plant Yunus Emre. The completed Turkish power plant never started production because coal from nearby mines could not be used with VPE complaining that coal samples it was originally sent did not correspond at all to the mines’ output and the work it had carried out.