Watpac clears the decks after year company 'had to have'

Construction group Watpac has posted its second consecutive loss despite the listed developer selling off more than $120 million in property assets and paying back all of its property-related debt over the financial year.

Construction group Watpac has posted its second consecutive loss despite the listed developer selling off more than $120 million in property assets and paying back all of its property-related debt over the financial year.

The group has reported an after-tax loss of $4.7 million in 2012-13, which comes after a $50.2 million loss the previous year. There will be no full-year dividend.

Watpac management, which characterised the last financial year as a period of "consolidation and organisational reform", blamed the loss on costs associated with closing civil operations in Queensland and Victoria and nearly $11 million in property impairments.

Chief executive Martin Monro said it was the year Watpac "had to have" to improve chances of a return to profitability in financial year 2013-14.

"The work that's been done has been difficult, challenging and absolutely costly in a return-to-shareholder sense," he said.

"We said a year ago we needed to get our operating overhead costs down, exit non-performing business units and sell non-core property assets and pay down property debt. The good news is we have achieved all those things."

Mr Monro said the civil operations in Queensland and Victoria had been making "reasonably significant losses" in recent years and the company realised it was not able to operate effectively in regional civil engineering projects in those areas.

Watpac's current major projects include a $600 million residential complex in Sydney's Central Park precinct and a $52 million municipal building for the City of Greater Dandenong.

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