Germany set to extend contract with toll company despite legal dispute-report

FRANKFURT, June 22 Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:15am EDT

FRANKFURT, June 22 (Reuters) - Germany's transport ministry plans to renew its contract with lorry toll company Toll Collect by three years when it expires in 2015 despite being locked in a legal battle with the firm for billions of euros in damages, a German magazine said.

Citing ministry documents, magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that it would be "difficult" for transport ministry to tender the contract before resolving a dispute with Toll Collect over its delayed start in 2005.

The German government wants compensation for the delay and has two arbitration court cases pending.

Toll Collect, the world's first satellite-based truck toll system, is 45 percent-owned by German carmaker Daimler AG , 45 percent by Deutsche Telekom and 10 percent by Vinci unit Cofiroute.

A ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report but told Reuters that the ministry was looking at different options for when the contract expires in August 2015. A decision needed to be made by the end of February 2015, he added.

In May, another German magazine cited a transport ministry report as saying Germany should nationalise Toll Collect to enable a planned expansion of the levy to two-lane federal roads from four- to six-lane motorways in 2018.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has said he wants a decision on Toll Collect's future to be taken this year. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Hans-Edzard Busemann; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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