Emerging Europe Properties Lead Meinl to Post a Q4 Loss

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Meinl European Land, the third-largest Austrian developer, posted a fourth-quarter loss after its properties in Central and Eastern Europe lost value.

The net loss was 16 million euros ($25 million), or 3.4 cents per share, compared with a profit of 94.5 million euros, or 45.6 cents, a year earlier, according to a report on the company's web site. Bloomberg calculated the loss by subtracting the nine-month profit from the full-year figure.

Meinl is focusing on Russia, Poland and Turkey, where the company will open its first shopping center later this year. Gross rental income rose 15 percent to 30.2 million euros in the fourth quarter from a year earlier as the company leased more space. Rent from properties open for more than a year increased 4 percent.

Gazit Globe and Citigroup's CPI Capital Partners Europe last month agreed to invest in Meinl in return for a stake of as much as 39 percent. The transaction should be completed by the end of the second quarter, Meinl Land said in a statement April 24. Gazit Globe and CPI are buying convertible bonds and new stock.

Meinl Land paid Meinl Bank, which manages its assets, 160 million euros in fees last year, including about 100 million euros for helping it raise 1.48 billion euros in a share sale in January. It paid 32.3 million euros in 2006.

Net income fell 16 percent last year to 157 million euros.

Austrian regulators last year fined Meinl Land and Meinl Bank for possibly misleading investors about the size and timing of the 1.8 billion euro stock repurchase and the risks attached to investing in the company. Meinl Land shareholders are preparing to sue Meinl Land and Meinl Bank for damages.