* Q4 net loss 2.28 bln riyals vs year-ago profit of 1.69 bln riyals
* 2014 net profit 220 mln riyals vs 5.94 bln riyals in 2013
* Q4 revenue 2.79 bln riyals vs year-ago 5.16 bln riyals
* Took impairments totalling 1.84 bln riyals in Q4 (Adds details, context)
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabian telecoms operator Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) reported an unexpected fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday, following on from its shock restatement of results in November last year.
Mobily, the country’s second-biggest telecoms operator and an affiliate of the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat, made a net loss of 2.28 billion riyals ($607.1 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, down from a profit of 1.69 billion riyals in the same period of 2013.
Analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast Mobily, which competes with the Gulf’s biggest operator, Saudi Telecom Co, and Zain Saudi, would make a profit of 1.33 billion riyals.
“The reason for the net loss is mainly attributed to a decrease in revenues, an increase in operating expenses, higher depreciation and finance expenses as well as exceptional expense items recorded during the current quarter compared with the same quarter last year,” Mobily said in a statement.
In November’s restatement of previous results Mobily cut its profits for 2013 and the first half of 2014 by a combined 1.43 billion riyals ($381 million), which it blamed on “an error in the timing of revenue recognition in respect of a promotional programme”, and also reported a 71 percent drop in third-quarter profit.
The company’s share price has fallen by 40 percent since the restatement, which caused the bourse regulator to launch an investigation and the company to then suspend its chief executive, Khalid al-Kaf, pending the outcome of an investigation by its own audit committee.
Mobily did not comment on the affair in its results statement on Wednesday, only reporting that fourth-quarter revenue fell 46 percent to 2.79 billion riyals after the deduction of 829 million riyals relating to deferred promotion costs.
It took further provisions of 741 million “for various assets and claims” and charged 203 million riyals in “additional catch-up depreciation” as well as making a charge on goodwill of 63 million riyals.
Full-year net profit fell to 220 million riyals, from the restated 5.94 billion riyals in 2013, on revenue down 17.7 percent at 15.8 billion riyals.
Net debt stood at 15.1 billion riyals at the end of 2014, up from 12 billion riyals a year earlier. ($1=3.7558 riyals) (Editing by Greg Mahlich)