March 31, 2009 / 11:49 AM / 10 years ago

Cologne raids firms over fatal building collapse

DUESSELDORF, Germany, March 31 (Reuters) - Cologne state prosecutors have raided offices of builders including Bilfinger Berger (GBFG.DE) and engineering companies to investigate buildings collapses this month that killed two people.

The prosecutor said on Tuesday it searched about 40 locations, including the offices of the Cologne public transport company, to gather evidence and to determine responsibility for the collapse of the buildings.

On March 3, a multi-storey building containing Cologne city’s historical archives collapsed along with two neighbouring buildings near a building site for the underground train line.

A joint venture led by Bilfinger Berger, comprising Dutch builder Royal BAM Group’s (BAMN.AS) Wayss & Freytag unit and Austrian peer Strabag’s (STRV.VI) Zueblin unit, is building part of the tube line next to the site.

The prosecutor said on Tuesday it raided offices belonging to the joint venture but that it had no suspicions so far that any specific person might have been responsible.

BAM said its Wayss & Freytag unit had been raided, Strabag declined to comment, and Bilfinger Berger only confirmed that it was part of the consortium.

Shares of Strabag had fallen 0.9 percent to 14.27 euros by 1100 GMT, while both BAM and Bilfinger outperformed the DJ Stoxx Construction & Materials index .SXOP. BAM had risen 2.7 percent to 6.52 euros, and Bilfinger had gained 2.5 percent to 28.09 euros, while the index had added 2.1 percent.

Bilfinger’s Chief Executive Herbert Bodner had said on March 17 the company was appropriately insured should damages arise from the incident and that shareholders had “no need to worry”. (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi in Duesseldorf, Harro Tenwolde in Amsterdam and Peter Dinkloh in Frankfurt, editing by Will Waterman)

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