August 12, 2016 / 11:32 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 2-Brazil's Estácio to probe accounting flaw after surprise loss

(Recasts with accounting irregularities, share price, financial details, Kroton CEO comments)

SAO PAULO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Estácio Participações SA said on Friday it has discovered a series of accounting irregularities over the last two years that cost Brazil’s No. 2 college operator 108 million reais ($34 million) in one-time charges and has summoned independent auditors and consultants to explain.

Estácio, which last month agreed to be acquired by larger rival Kroton Educacional SA, earlier on Friday reported a surprise quarterly net loss of 19.9 million reais. Analysts had a consensus estimate for a profit of 109 million reais, as compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Kroton Chief Executive Officer Rodrigo Galindo told analysts on a conference call on Friday that Estácios accounting adjustments will not affect the terms of the proposed merger.

Estácio said in a securities filing it has asked auditors to explain adjustments for tuition delinquencies from students who lacked formal contracts. The company had to raise provisions for civil lawsuit costs and the adjustments, both of which contributed to the second-quarter loss.

As a consequence of the accounting problem, Estácio had to restate annual 2014 and 2015 results. Around 80 million reais of the 108 million total amount corresponded to the delinquency-related adjustments, with the rest coming from the additional legal costs and other items.

An internal committee comprised of three Estácio board members will handle the situation with the auditors, the filing said.

Shares reversed earlier declines, and rose 0.2 percent to 18.45 reais at 12 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), in line with a 0.3 percent gain in Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) at 43.6 million reais were less than one-third of the 171 million reais expected by analysts. ($1 = 3.1387 Brazilian reais) (Reporting by Tatiana Bautzer; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Matthew Lewis)

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