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The Warsaw Voice » Real Estate » January 7, 2009
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Upbeat Despite Downturn
January 7, 2009   
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Arno Ruijtenbeek, president of Tebodin SAP-Projekt, and company vice-president Ewa ¦migielska talk with Beata Gołębiewska.

What is the background and history of your company? What were the main stages in the development of the company? What is the state of play today: how many offices, employees and projects does it have and what is the scope of its operations?
A.R.: We are proud to say that Tebodin SAP-Projekt has been operating on the Polish market for 20 years, combining the know-how and experience of the international organization Tebodin BV and Polish specialists.

The company's history is as interesting as it is long. In 1996, the Dutch company Tebodin BV decided to establish a branch office called Tebodin Poland, with its headquarters in Warsaw. After a period of successful and intensive development of the office, Tebodin BV decided to expand it further.

On Jan. 1, 2003, Tebodin acquired 51 percent of the stock in the well-known Polish engineering company SAP-Projekt, which began operating on the Polish market in 1989. In 2005 Tebodin's stake in SAP-Projekt increased to 100 percent, and the final merger took place in December 2005. Since that moment we have operated as Tebodin SAP-Projekt.

The biggest value of the merger was that it combined the expert knowledge and references the two companies acquired during their operations on the Polish market. Tebodin SAP-Projekt offers comprehensive consulting and engineering services to both domestic and international investors on industrial, infrastructure and commercial markets.

Today Tebodin SAP-Projekt is the leading consultancy and engineering company in Poland. We are close to our clients as we operate from eight offices throughout the country, located in Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław, ŁódĽ, Katowice, Szczecin, Gdańsk, and Cracow, with a total staff of more than 400. Our team consists mainly of engineers, designers, project and construction managers, and other specialists who efficiently support the company. The management board of Tebodin SAP-Projekt is represented by Arno Ruijtenbeek, president, Ewa ¦migielska, vice-president, and Jan de Boom, member of the management board.

The strong position of Tebodin SAP-Projekt on the construction market is proven by the many prestigious projects it has handled. Our portfolio is so extensive that it would take hours to present our main projects, therefore we would like to encourage all those interested to visit our website www.tebodinsap.pl, where the investment projects that Tebodin SAP-Project has been involved in are listed.

What sectors of the company's operations are the most important? What are the company's prospects?
A. R.: Although Tebodin is a key player in industrial investments, it also provides other crucial services to commercial and infrastructure-sector clients.

Because our strategy is to follow the demands and developments of the market, we are very active on the markets for residential and office buildings, commercial centers, and hotel projects. Additionally, in the context of the Euro 2012 soccer championships that Poland is preparing to host, we are focused on the infrastructure sector, including roads, highways and airports.

How has the international financial and economic crisis affected your business?
E. ¦.: Let me begin by saying that a crisis is in fact a self-fulfilling prophecy about a more difficult time that is bound to come after a time of prosperity. So if someone starts talking about a crisis, it is bound to happen soon.

Many investors have put on hold their projects due to low demand. Others have been forced to do the same due to a lack of funds. At the moment, the key problem for the commercial construction market is that banks do not trust investors, while there is no lack of tenants. Banks are imposing increasingly strict requirements on their clients. They have raised the required minimum limit for downpayments from 20 to 35 percent, which forces investors to scrape up tens of millions of zlotys more in order to get their projects off the ground.

But the present situation has also produced some positive results. Prices in the construction industry have dropped by some 15 percent, interest rates have fallen, and the euro has appreciated. This makes it possible to press ahead with some of the investment projects that were financially unfeasible just six months ago.

Our talks with investors show that all the decisions have been put off until the end of the first quarter of 2009. Depending on the situation, individual projects will be either launched or postponed further. Unfortunately, this will not help overcome the crisis, but will aggravate it. Only appropriate government measures encouraging investors to launch their projects as soon as possible can put an end to the series of developments that have compounded the crisis over the past few months.

However, despite the crisis we are looking to the future with confidence. We are strong and flexible enough to adapt to the new market trends and requirements.

In the airport infrastructure sector we plan to carry out a number of projects using public funds. Many of these projects are at an advanced stage, and some are already under way. I think there is only a very small risk that they will be suspended or abandoned altogether. What is more, the present situation should result in a faster pace of work on our part, which would help the government in its efforts to stimulate the construction market.
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