Austria-based toll systems supplier Kapsch TrafficCom AG has acquired 20.47% of the shares in its Norwegian competitor Q-Free ASA with an investment of around US$16 million (NKr 110 million).

The share purchase came as a “surprise” to the board of Q-Free, which says it received no notice of Kapsch TrafficCom’s plans.

“The board of Q-Free notes that Kapsch is its largest competitor, and expects to receive information from Kapsch regarding their intentions and rationale shortly,” says Q-Free in a statement.

“Due to the fact that the two companies are in an ongoing competitive situation and Q-Free still has not received information regarding the background/intention with regards to Kapsch`s purchase of above mentioned block of shares, the board in Q-Free considers the purchase of shares as unfriendly. Q-Free has therefore required Kapsch to comply with certain conditions before starting a dialogue. Kapsch has so far not been willing to meet such conditions.”

Q-Free, which is based in Trondheim, Norway, employs 240 people and has annual revenues of around US$60 million (NKr411 million).

Vienna-based Kapsch TrafficCom employs 770 people and last year reported revenues of US$263 million (Euro 197 million).

DATED: 19th January 2009