September 26, 2019 / 1:35 PM / 25 days ago

Czech competition watchdog blocks $455 mln highway toll contract

PRAGUE, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The Czech competition watchdog UOHS has blocked a $455 million highway toll contract between the state and the Czech Toll/Sky Toll consortium, potentially allowing current operator Austrian company Kapsch to continue running the concession.

UOHS cited concerns about how an April 2018 tender process for the contract was run but said on Thursday it was suspending its ruling by 12 months to allow the consortium and the Czech transport ministry to appeal.

The new 10-year contract is due to start in 2020.

Transport Minister Vladimir Kremlik said on his Twitter account that the ministry would appeal the ruling and it would not affect preparations for the launch of the new system.

CzechToll is controlled by the richest Czech businessman Petr Kellner, who joined forces with SkyToll, which operates the highway toll system in neighbouring Slovakia.

The consortium beat Kapsch in the tender and Kapsch has challenged the decision. ($1 = 23.6180 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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