• Co. misses analysts' estimates for a 2.18 billion dirham loss
  • Company attributes loss to difficult market conditions

Arabtec Holding Co., the biggest construction company in the United Arab Emirates, reported its first annual loss amid a construction slowdown in the country.

The company posted a net loss of 2.35 billion dirhams ($640 million) or 51 fils per share, compared with a profit of 214.6 million dirhams, or 5 fils a year earlier. The mean estimate of six analysts in a Bloomberg survey was for a loss of 2.18 billion dirhams. Revenue slid 12 percent to 7.3 billion dirhams, Arabtec said.

The Dubai-based company cited the “difficult environment that the regional construction market is facing” for the loss and said it’s seeking to further reduce costs. The contractor, controlled by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJSC, has been restructuring and trimming expenses since a selloff in June 2014. At the time, chief executive officer Hasan Ismaik resigned and several top managers were dismissed amid speculation that the company was losing government backing.

The company, which is building a branch of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, said its backlog is worth 19.3 billion dirhams and it’s continuing to win work. The company said it has received letter of intent from the ministry of transportation in Bahrain for a $1.1 billion joint venture with TAV Construction. Last month, Arabtec was awarded a 2 billion dirham contract from Aldar Properties to build 1,017 villas.

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