Australia's Tyro plunges after short-seller takes aim at payment terminal issues

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(Reuters) - Shares of Australia's Tyro Payments Ltd plunged more than 12% on Friday after a short seller said the company had under-reported the extent of outages across its payments terminals over the past week.

Tyro on Wednesday said 30% of its 32,000 customers - the majority of which use a single terminal - were facing outages caused by a software issue, and that it was collecting 2,000 terminals a day to be repaired and returned.

Short seller Viceroy Research on Friday said it estimated around 50% of Tyro's terminals are offline based on its "extensive" checks with an undisclosed number of Tyro customers.

Tyro, in response to the Viceroy report, said it stood by its earlier statement on the outages, calling the claims made by the short seller "false".

The company also asked the Sydney stock exchange to halt in trading of its shares until Jan. 19, saying it would provide an update next week on progress regarding its recovery plan and transaction values.

Shares of Tyro, the largest provider of payment terminals outside the so-called 'Big Four' banks in Australia, have lost nearly a third in value since the company first disclosed the outages last Thursday.

The shares were last down 11.8% prior to the halt at A$2.32.

"Many stores we have called and checked have already switched providers," Viceroy said in its report, adding the fallout on Tyro's reputation and finances will likely be "severe and long-lasting."

In Tyro's announcement on Wednesday, it said outages faced by the majority of customers would be fixed by the end of the week while the remainder will be operational next week.

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan; Editing by Christopher Cushing)