May 22 (Reuters) - India's Tata Communications reported a wider fourth-quarter consolidated loss, hit by higher costs and dragged by its South African unit, keeping the international telecoms carrier in the red for the third straight year.
The company, one of the world's biggest undersea cable network owners, said consolidated net loss rose to 2.61 billion rupees ($47 million) for the three months ended March from 1.57 billion rupees a year earlier.
Total income rose to 40.15 billion rupees from 31.46 billion.
For the fiscal year, consolidated net loss rose to 7.95 billion rupees from 7.77 billion for the former state monopoly, which is now majority owned by the salt-to-software Tata conglomerate. The Indian government still owns 26 percent of the company.
High capital spending in the past years and loans taken to fund those have hit Tata Communications' profitability. Losses at its subsidiary Neotel, South Africa's second-biggest fixed-line phone operator, have also been a drag on the company.
Tata Communications has said it expects capital expenditure to drop to about $300 million a year from an average of about $500 million in recent years, while it hopes Neotel's performance to improve although a profit was still sometime away.
Tata Communications, also listed in New York, this year walked away from a bidding race for Britain's Cable & Wireless Worldwide, for which Vodafone has made an offer.
Shares in Tata Communications, valued at about $1 billion, are down about 5 percent this year, compared with a nearly 4 percent rise in the benchmark index. ($1 = 54.9750 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy in NEW DELHI; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)