SINGAPORE — Keppel Corp, whose offshore and marine unit is embroiled in an international bribery scandal, has posted a net loss of S$495 million in the fourth quarter of last year — largely due to the financial penalty paid to the authorities — dragging its full-year net profit down by 72 per cent compared to the previous year.
The results included the one-off financial penalty arising from Keppel Offshore & Marine's (KOM) global resolution with criminal authorities in the United States, Brazil and Singapore, and related legal, accounting and forensics costs which amounted to S$619 million in total.
For the financial year ending Dec 31 last year, Keppel achieved a net profit of S$217 million — compared to S$784 million posted in FY2016 — after taking into account the financial penalty of S$570 million, and S$49 million of related costs. Excluding these one-off items, the company said it would have achieved a net profit of S$836 million, an increase of 7 per cent over FY2016. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Keppel made a net profit of S$143 million.
Despite the heavy losses in the fourth quarter, Keppel is proposing a final cash dividend of 14 cents per share. The dividend takes into account the group's improved performance (excluding KOM's one-off financial penalty and related costs), the stronger cash flow position and lower gearing. Including the interim cash dividend of 8 cents per share paid to shareholders in August, the total distribution will be 22 cents per share — which is higher than the 20 cents per share paid out for FY2016, said Keppel.
The company announced its annual financial results after trading hours on Thursday (Jan 25). Keppel's share price closed at S$8.58, 0.6 per cent lower than the opening price. News of the financial penalty imposed on Keppel broke on Dec 23 last year. Despite the scandal, its share price has been on an upward trend. Its shares were trading at S$7.47 a piece on Dec 22.
Speaking at the results briefing which lasted almost two hours and was dominated by questions about the scandal, Keppel CEO Loh Chin Hua said: "The global resolution reached by KOM over past misdeeds in Brazil brings an end to what has been a painful chapter for Keppel - one that we have recognised and dealt firmly with. This is not Keppel. We care not just about results, but also how they are obtained."
Mr Loh stressed that Keppel's board and management have "thoroughly investigated the allegations and dealt with the issues that were uncovered". "We have put in place enhanced compliance controls, including comprehensive training and certification, to prevent any repeat of such misdeeds," said Mr Loh.