Not all Louvre Abu Dhabi news has been good news this week. A week after the 1-year old satellite institution announced having met its goal of drawing in one million visitors in its debut year, Waagner-Biro, the company that built its dome is announcing bankruptcy.
The Austrian engineering company is reportedly liquidating some assets by selling off subsidiaries to rescue parts of its business. Austrian press reports pin the blame on major payment holdups and increased costs that were not accounted for in the Louvre project.
The company has been struggling for a few months now, having announced the insolvency of one subsidiary, SBE Alpha AG, back in October and announced that “the remainder of the group is in danger of insolvency”. With every passing week however, it seems like another subsidiary is put up for sale or has been successfully acquired with Waagner-Biro Austria Stage Systems AG and Waagner-Biro Bridge Systems AG leading the efforts.
The Dome which was designed by French Architect Jean Nouvel and is said to have cost around €80m, according to Waagner-Biro’s website, but Austria newspaper Die Presse reports that the company was forced to take on additional costs after Abu Dhabi refused to pay the full price.
Despite Thomas Jost, former CEO of Waagner-Biro singling out the Louvre project at a press interview last year and expressing regrets to taking it on, it isn’t the only project that has brought them financial burdens. Kleine Zeitung reported that the company faces similar issues with the Lakhta Arch in St. Petersberg, Europe’s tallest skyscraper, which was expected to bring in €30m in revenue but is still outstanding.
Waagner-Biro is over 160 years old and carries a strong legacy in Austria, employing more than 1,300 people in 17 offices around EMEA. Some of its notable projects include working on the Sydney Opera House, the State Opera House in Berlin, and the British Museum in London. The Art Newspaper reports that Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture & Tourism did not respond to a request for a statement on the matter.