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RIO DE JANEIRO, March 15 (Reuters) - Brazil's largest steelmaker Gerdau SA reported on Tuesday a non-adjusted net loss of 3.17 billion reais ($854 million) in the fourth quarter, driven by a steep recession in its domestic market and writedowns across its businesses.
The loss was mostly due to non-cash impairments totaling 3.1 billion reais taken on its north American, Brazilian and specialist steel divisions reflecting a deterioration in the steel market and the value of its assets.
Before impairments, Gerdau reported an adjusted net loss of 41 million reais, broadly in line with a Reuters poll of analyst forecasts. That compares to a 393 million reais profit in the same quarter last year.
Gerdau has been the more resilient of Brazil's steelmakers in recent quarters, able to weather a slowdown in its domestic market due to greater exposure to the U.S. market. But with Brazil's construction sector still in freefall and many of the biggest builders ensnared in a corruption scandal focused on state-run oil producer Petrobras, the toll has begun to mount.
The company has not been immune to a rise in corruption probes in Brazil either. Gerdau is implicated in a police investigation into a scheme in which the steelmaker allegedly avoided hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Police raided the company's offices and summoned Chief Executive André Gerdau Johannpeter for questioning last month.
In its financial results statement, Gerdau denied any wrongdoing and said all tax-related payments had been strictly within the law.
($1 = 3.71 reais)
Reporting by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama