Saipem managed to cut its net loss in the first quarter of 2021 as against a year earlier despite a significant drop in revenues for the Italian contracting giant.

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The net loss for the three months to the end of March was €120 million ($145 million), exactly the same as last year's fourth quarter but well up on the €269 million net loss taken in the first quarter of 2020 when the company booked asset writedowns of €260 million.

Revenues in the most recent period hit €1.62 billion, down from €2.17 billion taken in the first quarter of 2020 before the full effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the global market had taken hold. Revenues in the fourth quarter last year were €1.96 billion.

Saipem said new contract awards in the first quarter of this year were around €1.6 billion, while the order backlog remained at a record high, reaching more than €25 billion at the end of the quarter.

Chief executive Stefano Cao said the most recent results were "inevitably affected by the overall economic context, which is still heavily impacted by the [coronavirus] pandemic crisis, by the slowdown of engineering and construction activities in some projects and by the recent events in Mozambique".

An Islamist insurgency in Mozambique led Total to declare force majeure on its $20 billion Mozambique LNG project this week.

Cao said Sapiem continues to have "solid fundamentals" to face market challenges.