Anglian makes provisions on joint venture in Brazil

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The Independent Online
Anglian Water yesterday confirmed it would be making provisions against losses on a joint venture in Brazil less than a month after denying it was experiencing any problems on the project.

In a statement issued to the Stock Exchange, Anglian said it had conducted a full analysis of its international business and overseas strategy and the outcome and any related provisions would be announced along with its preliminary results in May.

A spokesman later confirmed the provision, expected to be in the region of pounds 15m, would cover some of its operations in Brazil, where it is involved in a pounds 30m waste treatment project in the south of the country with joint venture partner Cejen.

Last month the Independent disclosed that Anglian was taking legal action in Brazil after running into problems on the high-profile joint venture involving its international arm. A company employee based in Brazil has returned to Britain and is on "gardening leave".

According to reports circulating in the industry, Anglian paid up to pounds 12m into the bank account of an individual in Brazil and is now trying to recover the money.

At the time a spokesman said he was not aware the company had lost any money and the company would not be making any provisions because "we haven't lost any cash".

Anglian also denied that its financial director, Chris Mellor, had signed a bank draft made out to the account of an individual in Brazil or that it had hired private investigators to recover any lost money.

Yesterday it said Mr Mellor and Anglian's company secretary did sign off the financing for the deal but the cheque was made out to a company, not an individual. A spokesman said Anglian had not hired any private detectives but he was unable to say whether any lawyers acting on its behalf had done so.

The Anglian employee who was working in Brazil, Peter Cashen, refused to comment when contacted at his Northamptonshire home last month. There is no suggestion that Mr Cashen or Cejen were involved in the disappearance of any money.

The Cejen partnership was singled out in Anglian's last annual report as an example of its Brazilian ambitions. However, one senior water industry figure in Brazil said there were rumours that the partnership with Cejen had ended and that the official opening ceremony of the treatment works had been postponed.

It proved impossible to contact Cejen at its offices in the city of Curitiba, in the southern state of Santa Catarina.