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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sistema Has Q4 Loss On Plunging Ruble

Sistema, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's holding company, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $713.9 million, compared to a profit of $467 million in the same period the year before, after a fall in the value of the ruble drove down revenues.

The firm has instituted a cost optimization program that has thus far saved a total of $700 million by converting part of the company's dollar-denominated debt into ruble loans, president and CEO Leonid Melamed said on a conference call Monday.

"In light of new economic realities, our entire investment program has been revised," he said. "This year doesn't promise to be easy, and it is highly probable that trends identified in 2008 could continue."

The firm's capital expenditure will be significantly higher this year than it was last year, vice president Anton Abugov said during the call, declining to give an exact figure.

Melamed chalked up the company's low profit and fourth-quarter figures primarily to losses on the foreign exchange market. "The group sustained certain noncash losses, which impacted our consolidated [operating income before depreciation and amortization] and net income," he said.

The sum of write-offs including foreign exchange losses and asset re-evaluations totaled approximately $1 billion, Melamed said. The holding's total assets rose 2.7 percent year on year to $29.2 billion.

The company said its OBIDA for the fourth quarter dropped 39.1 percent year on year to $873.2 million while operating income fell 63.2 percent to $319.2 million.

The holding is supposed to pay back $3.7 billion in debt this year, and senior vice president Alexei Buryanov said during the call that $1.6 billion would be due at the end of this quarter. The group's consolidated debt grew to $7.7 billion by the end of 2008.

In March, Sistema paid $2.5 billion to raise its stake in Bashkortostan oil producer Bashneft to 77 percent and purchase controlling packets of three refineries, a petrochemical plant and an oil-product trader.

To finance the deal, the company put up 17 percent of its stake in Mobile TeleSystems to accept a $2 billion, seven-year loan from VTB. The entire deal will increase Sistema's debt to $12.6 billion from $9.4 billion, the company said at the time.

On the conference call, Sistema management said it would begin offering to buy out minority shareholders in the Bashkir energy companies in May.

Sistema announced last week that it was considering acquiring a controlling stake in Svyazinvest after its current 25 percent stake plus one share in the telecom was given a lower-than-expected valuation.

Melamed said on Wednesday that the company still had not decided whether to increase its stake or sell it.

Sistema closed up 3.8 percent at 8.6 rubles on the MICEX, in line with the index on the whole, which was up 3.9 percent.