Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

German investment holding company Aton owns nearly 30% of Murray & Roberts, the group that has repositioned itself from a construction firm to mining contractor, said in a trading update on Monday.

Murray & Roberts’s share price jumped 34% to R15 on February 16 on news that Aton had taken a 25.5% stake.

The group said as at April 30, Aton’s stake had increased to 29.998%.

"The company has not received any further guidance, correspondence or communication from Aton regarding its future intentions for its investment in the company," Murray & Roberts said in the trading statement.

Murray & Roberts’s share price fell 1.67% to R13.57 on Monday after it warned shareholders it expected to report headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the year to end-June would be more than 20% lower than the prior year’s R1.58.

It said that in addition to persistently low energy prices and difficult trading conditions, its full year results would suffer from four unprofitable building projects in the Middle East, which were excluded from the sale of its infrastructure and building division.

Murray & Roberts announced in November that an empowerment consortium called Southern Palace would buy its construction division for R314m. The deal received Competition Tribunal approval in March.

"The disposal of the infrastructure and building platform excluded the business in the Middle East, as the buyer was not interested in acquiring this business," Monday’s statement said.

"Closure of this business is very costly, mainly due to increased costs associated with the remaining construction work on the last four projects, as well as an unfavourable arbitration ruling on a subcontractor claim on a project that was completed in 2011."

The group said the three divisions it restructured itself into — oil and gas, underground mining, and power and water — were performing in line with expectations.

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