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Grim outlook for flagship Cypriot company

By George Psyllides

For decades J&P was the flagship of Cyprus’ construction industry, the most successful private company, which transcended the island’s confines to take on massive projects abroad. But this week it made the headlines for the wrong reasons, its workers in Saudi Arabia being unpaid for months and representatives set to meet bankers in the coming days in what could be sealing the company’s future.

J&P Overseas, a subsidiary of Cyprus’s Joannou & Paraskevaides Group is apparently facing financial difficulties and has left its workers in Saudi Arabia unpaid for months, according to reports.

In a leaked letter addressed to the company’s director Andreas Papathomas, J&P Overseas workers based in Saudi Arabia, including several dozen Cypriots, said that as a result of the company’s failure to fulfil its obligations to its staff, around 6,700 of them have to live under miserable conditions, as they lacked funds to even buy food.

It was not immediately clear what the reason behind the problems was but the facts on the ground appear to be grim.

The company reportedly has loans in excess of €1bn it cannot service and all the money it gets go to the banks, perhaps explaining why it cannot pay its workers.

A make or break meeting is scheduled with the bankers this week, and survival will depend on the main shareholders of the company coming up with fresh funds.

A crisis meeting of the representatives of the two families in Switzerland a little over a week ago failed to come up with an agreement.

After 57 years, J&P Overseas could be looking at an inglorious ending.

J&P Overseas was established in Guernsey in 1961, 20 years after George Paraskevaides and Stelios Ioannou had established what turned out to a very successful company in Cyprus.

The company constructed or participated in the building of hundreds of largescale projects in Cyprus, including the Dhekelia and Moni power stations, the British bases – including RAF Akrotiri – water reservoirs, schools, hotels, highways, the fuel terminal at Vassilikos and the Limassol Marina.

Its overseas branch initially took over projects in North Africa and quickly expanded into the Gulf in the 1970s.

Today, J&P has a presence in the Middle East, Africa, the Asian Subcontinent, and Europe. The core of the J&P Group’s operations is the Gulf Area and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, with landmark projects in Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, with regional offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, Muscat, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha.

During the mid-1980’s the company entered the Oil & Gas sector and has since built an impressive portfolio of successfully completed projects in Libya, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus in the upstream and downstream sectors, as well as in power generation.

In Greece, the company was involved in the construction of the Rion Antirion bridge over the Gulf of Corinth, one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and longest of the fully suspended type.

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