BERLIN, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The German government plans to nationalise lorry motorway toll company Toll Collect temporarily until a new operator has been found, a transport ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Toll Collect, the world’s first satellite-based truck toll system, is 45 percent-owned by German carmaker Daimler , 45 percent by Deutsche Telekom and 10 percent by Vinci unit Cofiroute.
Confirming a pre-released report by business daily Handelsblatt, the transport ministry spokesman said that the federal government intends to take over the Toll Collect in September before starting the bidding process to renew the operating contract, which expires this year.
“It is not intended that the government will hold the shares in the operating company permanently,” the spokesman said.
Handelsblatt’s report said the reason for the planned nationalisation was unresolved legal disputes between the federal government, Toll Collect and its shareholders.
There are currently two arbitration proceedings involving Toll Collect. In the first case, the government is claiming damages from Toll Collect and its consortium for the late introduction of the truck toll and for contractual penalties.
In the second case, Toll Collect is seeking compensation from the government for operation of the toll system.
The Handelsblatt report said that Berlin is still in negotiations with the shareholders in an effort to resolve the disputes and ensure that potential liabilities arising from the cases do not hinder a sale.
The ministry spokesman declined to comment further on the matter.
Daimler and Deutsche Telekom did not immediately respond to calls or emails seeking comment outside business hours. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin and Tom Sims in Frankfurt; Editing by David Goodman)