E-tolls agency points fingers after auction flops

The roads agency has lashed out at Gauteng Premier David Makhura for impacting investor confidence following a disappointing July bond auction. By Lisa Steyn.

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Roads agency Sanral only managed to raise R275m in its July bond auction on Wednesday.

“Earlier today, investor confidence was evidently impacted by the pronouncements of the Gauteng premier, David Makhura, ahead of the … July bond auction,” said Sanral.

The agency said it had wanted to raise R500m at the bond auction, but only received total bids of R465m (wider than current prices) and issued R275m at mark-to-market prices.

“The lack of interest was unfortunate given the positive announcement last week by Moody’s Investor Services to change Sanral’s ratings outlook from negative to stable,” the roads agency said.

At his inaugural state of the province address on Friday, Makhura announced the establishment of a panel to review the controversial e-tolling system’s impact on the province. Gauteng motorists continue to resist e-tolling despite the system having been implemented in December last year.

“The result of this auction has once again demonstrated the close relationship between government and Sanral, a government-implementing agency,” said Inge Mulder, the agency’s chief financial officer. “Investors are sensitive to policy uncertainty and this was clearly communicated, which overshadowed the positive announcement by the ratings agency, Moody’s.”

Moody’s said last week that the decision to affirm Sanral’s ratings and change the outlook to stable from negative primarily reflects the evidence of good e-toll collections related to the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

Mulder said the agency would continue to do its utmost to ensure that it creates and maintains roads that are safe and time and cost-effective to use.

Sanral’s next bond auction is scheduled for August 2014.  — (c) 2014 Mail & Guardian

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