LISBON, March 31 (Reuters) – Portugal’s largest builder Mota-Engil swung to net loss of 20 million euros ($23.48 million) in 2020, after it booked a 39 million euro provision relating to the pandemic, the company said on Wednesday.

In 2019, Mota-Engil posted a 27 million euro profit.

The company stated that “the net loss of 20 million euros was due to the recording of 30 million euros accounted as provisions directly related to the risk of mitigating the negative effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”. The builder also booked a 10 million euros one-off provision.

Overall sales fell 17% to 2.43 billion euros and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) slidded 9% to 380 million euros, while its margin rose to 16% from 14% in 2019, the company said.

Turnover in Africa fell 24% to 761 million euros due to constraints related to COVID-19 mainly in Angola and Mozambique, but Latin America, where sales slumped 37% to 595 million euros, was the region most affected by the pandemic.

The construction company noted that business in Peru, Mexico and Brazil was negatively affected “due to demanding containment measures and stoppages”, while turnover in Europe rose 8% thanks to construction segment in Poland.

Mota-Engil which operates in more than 20 countries spread across Europe, Africa and Latin America said its the order book reached an all-time high of 6.1 billion euros, and expects it to stand above 6 billion euros in 2021.

The builder estimates capital expenditure (capex) of 200-250 million euros this year, after a 197 million euro capex in 2020 and expects EBITDA margin to remain resilient.

The company is currently in the final stages of selling a 30% stake in the company to Chinese giant China Communications Construction Co (CCCC). ($1 = 0.8518 euros) (By Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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