Arteris hands back highway contract

Arteris hands back highway contract

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Brazilian toll road operator Arteris has asked to hand back a highway concession in the state of Rio de Janeiro for the government to put up for auction again, it said in a securities filing on Tuesday.

Arteris subsidiary Autopista Fluminense operates the 322km toll road concession on federal highway BR-101 between the city of Niterói and the state line with Espírito Santo.

The company did not say why it asked to return the concession, but it added that it will continue to operate the toll road as it carries on discussions with the national ground transport agency ANTT.

Brazil's highway concessionaires have suffered form a sharp drop in toll revenues as state governments maintain travel restrictions in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Brazil recorded the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in one day on Tuesday, the day after it become the country with the third highest number of cases in the world.

Brazil had a total of 271,628 confirmed cases and 17,971 deaths from COVID-19 as of Wednesday, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University.

Last month, infrastructure company Triunfo said it would return the longest toll road concession in Brazil, claiming that a weak economy and the "unpredictable change" in the government's long-term financing policies had made the project unfeasible.

Toll road concessionaires have called for changes in federal and state concession contracts to allow for postponing investments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Arteris concluded its investments in the Autopista Fluminense concession in February 2018, according to the toll road's website. Canada's Brookfield and Spain's Abertis own Arteris, which operates nine other toll road concessions in Brazil.