This article first appeared on IOL BusinessReport. Written By Edward West (IOL)

\”OptiPower, acquired in the current financial year, was well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.\”

CAPE TOWN – Murray & Roberts (M&R) shares shot up 16.53 percent on the JSE yesterday to R4.37 after it said that none of its clients defaulted on payments as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the international civil and engineering group said that all its projects, however, experienced “a significant impact” as a result of the restrictions implemented to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

“Few projects continued with little or no disruption, with the suspension of certain projects and others placed on care and maintenance,” M&R said. “Where projects were able to operate, measures were implemented to safeguard employees as far as possible.”

The group said its results for the year to June were expected to deteriorate more than 20 percent with diluted and basic earnings per share as well as headline earnings per share affected.

It said the first half of 2021 was expected to continue to experience Covid-19 effects, with the second projected to show a stronger response.

The group said its liquidity position remained strong with more than R1.7billion in cash at the end of March, and R1.1bn in unutilised credit.

It said its balance sheet had a net asset value of R5.6bn.

M&R said support from clients had varied from compensation for costs incurred and time lost to credit extensions as a result of Covid-19 regulations. “It is expected that the commercial close out of all Covid-19-related impacts will take some time and only after some level of normality has returned,” the group said.

The underground mining platform’s projects in Australasia were operational, although restrictions on the movement of people were impacting progress.

The Oyu Tolgoi shaft-sinking project in Mongolia was still on lockdown.

In the Americas, most projects were now operational.

In South Africa, projects were operating at 50 percent of capacity and would return to full production under level 3 restrictions.

In Zambia, Glencore had terminated all contracts with its contractors, including its Mufulira contract with M&R.

In the oil and gas platform, projects in Australasia were operational, although modified work rosters and supply chain constraints were impeding progress.

In the US and Canada, work on projects was continuing, albeit at limited capacities due to supply chain constraints.

In the power and water platform, most projects were operational, and OptiPower’s projects on the renewable energy sites were permitted to resume work last Wednesday.

The Gautrain was operating at limited capacity.

The business platform is experiencing a lack of work in South Africa, as there have been no new project developments of scale in recent years, following the Medupi and Kusile power projects.

The power transmission and distribution sector in both South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa presented a large pipeline of prospects.

OptiPower, acquired in the current financial year, was well positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.

Several tenders were under adjudication and the group believed clients would go ahead with the award of many, if not most of these projects.

Some awards might be delayed, however, the group’s strong order book was expected to provide a good platform for future performance.

The group had an order book of R51.5bn as at March 31, versus R50.8bn at the end of December, with near orders of around R6.6bn.