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Environment

Factbox: Companies feel the heat as bushfires choke Australia

(Reuters) - A number of Australian companies have flagged damages or potential losses from bushfires, which have claimed the lives of 28 people and destroyed more than 2,500 homes, as the continent experiences one of the most severe fire seasons on record.

Here is a list of companies, which have warned of an impact from one of the worst conflagrations in Australian history:

INSURANCE

** Insurer Suncorp Group SUN.AX has received more than 2,600 bushfire-related claims since September, worth as much as A$345 million, and nearly a third of which was racked up in the first few days of January.

** Australia's largest general insurer Insurance Australia Group Ltd IAG.AX has incurred net claim costs of A$400 million from these natural disasters for the first half of the fiscal year.

AGRIBUSINESS

** Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers KPT.AX, which own 86% of the plantation forestry on the island, said it was assessing the extent of the damage and considering options to salvage damaged timber. Nearly a third of the wildlife-rich island has been destroyed.

** Dairy producer Bega Cheese, which operates two production facilities in New South Wales (NSW), said its milk collection could shrink by 1.9 million liters as farm operations and infrastructure had been destroyed.

** Winemaker Australian Vintage AVG.AX said its 30-hectare Charleston vineyard in Adelaide Hills was affected by the wildfires, with damage to some infrastructure and vines. The company expects that half of the crop, which equates to about 200 tonnes, has been lost.

** Elders Ltd ELD.AX, a more than 180-year-old agricultural products provider, expects livestock agency commissions and farm supplies sales to be negatively impacted in the near-term.

HOSPITALITY

** The Kosciuszko National Park, which has mainland Australia's highest peak, was closed and evacuated as fires laced the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Thredbo, a ski resort in the park leased by EVENT Hospitality & Entertainment Ltd EVT.AX, was also shut.

** Retirement and lifestyle community owner Ingenia Communities Group INA.AX said annual earnings would be at the lower range of its previous outlook as visitors cleared out of its tourism parks to avoid the fires.

** Business slowed even during peak season at holiday park owner Aspen Group Ltd's APZ.AX coastal properties, Barlings Beach and Tween Waters, with tourists and residents rushing to leave as basic utilities such as food and water became scarce amid road closures in the region.

“It is not known when trading conditions will return to normal,” said the holiday and caravan parks operator, adding it expects at least A$500,000 worth of hits to its income.

INFRASTRUCTURE

** Optus, a unit of Singapore Telecommunications STEL.SI, said fire damage and power outgages had adversely affected a small part of their network in NSW and Victoria.

RESOURCES

** Damage to electricity poles sapped power from nickel miner Western Areas' WSA.AX Forrestania operations for a day, though it said it does not expect the hiatus to impact its production or cost outlook for the year.

** In fire-ravaged East Gippsland, the nation's biggest gas pipeline company APA Group APA.AX halted works for two weeks on a plant to process gas from the Sole field, which is being developed by Cooper Energy COE.AX.

RETAIL

** Fashion retailer Mosaic Brands MOZ.AX said its first-half comparable sales were 8% lower than last year, as 20% of its stores were affected by the fire and 32% are in locations where consumer confidence is now fragile.

Reporting by Niyati Shetty and Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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