SINGAPORE (Jan 29): Loh Chin Hua, CEO of Keppel Corp, was cool as a cucumber during the company’s results briefing on Jan 25 in the face of repeated questions from the media and analysts about the 13-year-long bribes-for-contracts scandal in Brazil that has engulfed the company’s offshore and marine arm. Throughout the briefing session, Loh maintained a consistent line: “We have the capabilities and the solutions to win business legitimately and within laws,” he said. “We are drawing a line underneath this.”

It is a line bathed in red ink. On Dec 23, 2017, Keppel said its offshore and marine arm had reached a global resolution with the authorities in the US, Brazil and Singapore that would see it pay more than US$422 million ($570 million) in fines. With the release of its 4QFY2017 results on Jan 25, it was also revealed that Keppel had chalked up $49 million in legal, accounting and forensic costs for a “thorough” investigation.

As a result, Keppel suffered its first-ever quarterly loss since it began reporting its earnings on a quarterly basis in 2003. For 4QFY2017 to Dec 31, Keppel reported a net loss of $495 million, versus earnings of $143 million for the same quarter the previous year. Revenue for 4QFY2017 was down 20% yo-y to $1.55 billion. Despite these sombre headline numbers, Keppel declared a final dividend of 14 cents a share, which brings its full-year dividend to 22 cents a share — up two cents from the preceding year.

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