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Write-down on e-toll project hurts Kapsch

Johannesburg - Kapsch TrafficCom, the Austrian maker of toll road systems, dropped the most in a month as an e8.5 million (R126m) write-down on a project in South Africa hurt third-quarter earnings.

The shares declined as much as 5.9 percent, the most in intraday trading since January 23, and were 4.4 percent lower at e43.70 as of 4.41pm in Vienna yesterday.

The company’s net loss including minority interests was e600 000 in the three months to December, compared with a profit of e1.2m in the same period a year earlier, according to the toll road systems maker’s quarterly report.

Kapsch TrafficCom took a write-down on part of compensation it was due to receive from the SA National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) to maintain electronic tolls around Johannesburg and Pretoria before they began operating last year, according to spokeswoman Katharina Riedl.

“Unresolved issues in this regard noticeably weighed down the third-quarter earnings,” the company’s chief executive, Georg Kapsch, said yesterday.

The e-toll system in Gauteng was delayed for more than two years due to opposition from road users and trade unions, and remains unpopular among Gauteng residents ahead of elections on May 7. The opposition to the system landed in the courts many times before the e-toll started operating in December.

After the compensation settlement was agreed upon, Kapsch had to write down e8.5m, according to Riedl. Sanral was not available for comment yesterday. - Bloomberg

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