Russian miner Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM: Quote) swung to a $449 million net loss in 2008, attributable to shareholders of its parent company, after taking $4.7 billion in impairment charges and selling its metal for less.

The loss compared with a net profit of $5.3 billion a year ago and was far below the $3.4 billion profit forecast by analysts.

Norilsk, the world's largest producer of nickel and palladium, said impairment of non-financial assets amounted to $4.7 billion in 2008, compared with $1.88 billion in 2007.

This resulted from an impairment of property, plant and equipment at Norilsk Nickel International and power firm OGK-3 (OGKC.MM: Quote), as well as impairment of goodwill recognised at Norilsk Nickel International and its Activox refining technology.

Norilsk posted revenues of $14.0 billion last year, only slightly below the $14.1 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts, and down from $17.1 billion in 2007.

Revenue from metal sales alone totalled $11.8 billion last year, a 26 percent decrease from 2007, Norilsk said.

The main factor in this was a substantial decrease of sales prices for nickel, Norilsk said. In addition, a slight decrease in physical volumes of metals sold contributed to the fall in revenue of the group.

Norilsk's adjusted earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $5.8 billion, in line with the Reuters poll. Last year Norilsk's EBITDA was $10.3 billion.

The biggest shareholders in Norilsk Nickel are Interros, the investment vehicle for billionaire Vladimir Potanin, and United Company RUSAL, the world's largest aluminium producer. (Reporting by Aleksandras Budrys and Polina Devitt; Editing by Hans Peters)

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