Italy court releases part of Impregilo payments

Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:22pm BST

ROME, April 17 (Reuters) - Italy's highest court ordered the release of 301.8 million euros ($395.6 million) in frozen payments to builder Impregilo SpA IPGI.MI, the company said on Friday, in a partial freeing-up of 750 million euros sequestered in a probe.

The high court has sent the case back to a Naples court to decide on the remaining 450 million euros in payments, Impregilo said in a statement. Some investors had hoped for the complete release of the funds.

Shares in Impregilo, Italy's biggest builder by market value, dropped on news of the decision and were down 6.4 percent at 2.1825 euros by 1256 GMT, falling from a six-month high of 2.395 euros.

"No sooner had the decision come out when the stock started to fall," a trader said. The DJ Stoxx European construction and building materials index .SXMP was 2.1 percent firmer.

Prosecutors froze the payments in 2007 as part of an investigation into waste management contracts near Naples in southern Italy.

Prosecutors had sought to block a Naples court decision in August 2008 that would have released the funds.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson and Valentina Za; Editing by David Holmes)

($1=.7598 Euro)

((ian.simpson@reuters.com; +39 02 6612 9666; Reuters Messaging: ian.simpson@reuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: IMPREGILO/COURT

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