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Leighton Tumbles Most in Two Years on Forecast, Share Sale

Leighton Tumbles Most in Two Years on Loss Forecast
The Leighton Holdings Ltd. headquarters in Sydney, Australia. Photographer: Ian Waldie/Bloomberg

April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Leighton Holdings Ltd., Australia’s biggest builder, plunged the most in more than two years in Sydney trading after forecasting a full-year loss and raising A$757 million ($797 million) by selling new shares at a discount.

The company tumbled 12 percent to A$24.93 at the 4:10 p.m. market close in Sydney, the biggest decline since November 2008, as it resumed trading following a five-day suspension.

Leighton, 54 percent owned by Hochtief AG, sold new shares at A$22.50 apiece after forecasting A$907 million in write backs and impairments in the year ending June because of project-cost overruns and charges at its Middle East venture. Chief Executive Officer David Stewart has also flagged changes to bidding procedures and possible asset sales.

Hochtief, Germany’s largest builder, took up its full entitlement in the share sale, according to a statement today. Investors were offered one new share for every nine held.

Leighton expects a net loss of A$427 million in the year ending June, compared with an earlier forecast for a profit, it said in an April 11 statement. The company has suffered delays and cost overruns while building the Brisbane Airport Link road and a desalination plant in Victoria state.

Hochtief, based in Essen, Germany, said April 11 that pretax profit may fall 50 percent this year because of losses at Leighton. Chief Executive Officer Herbert Luetkestratkoetter also resigned this week as Madrid-based Actividades de Construccion & Servicios SA works to build a controlling stake in the company.

The German builder has tumbled 14 percent in Frankfurt trading since issuing a profit warning on April 7.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Fenner in Melbourne at rfenner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net

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