Parker Drilling settles bribery charges, sees fourth-quarter loss

Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:45am EST

(Reuters) - Parker Drilling Co said it reached a settlement with U.S. regulators investigating charges of bribery in Kazakhstan and Nigeria, and estimated a surprise loss for the fourth quarter.

The settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission staff and the U.S. Department of Justice ends a three-year investigation that found Parker Drilling had potentially made illegal payments to a government official in Kazakhstan, and used an individual agent in Nigeria in connection with some customs-related issues, the company said in regulatory filings.

Parker, which provides contract drilling and related services, took a charge of $15.85 million, or 13 cents per share, in the quarter over the settlement.

Excluding the charge, fourth-quarter adjusted loss was 3 to 5 cents per share, Parker Drilling said.

Analysts were expecting the company to report a profit of 5 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter results on February 21.

"It is a positive that this issue has been put to bed now," said Stephens Inc analyst John Keller. "Every quarter for the last couple of years, they have had a charge or expense in relation to it."

The company said its international operations were hurt by lower rig utilization in the fourth quarter, while its U.S. operations saw weak demand for barge drilling rigs and increased competition in the rental tools business.

Parker Drilling shares were trading up less than a percent at $6.14 at market open on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)

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