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Dubai's largest construction firm Arabtec swung to a first-quarter net loss on Wednesday, missing analysts' estimates, as costs surged.

The builder reported a loss attributable to equity holders in the parent of Dh279.82 million ($76.2 million) in the three months to March 31, compared to a Dh137.89 million profit in the corresponding period of 2014, it said in a statement to Dubai's bourse.

The earnings were well below estimates from two analysts polled by Reuters. Global Investment House had forecast Arabtec would make a quarterly profit of Dh95 million, while SICO Bahrain had estimated a profit of Dh20.2 million.

Arabtec shares tumbled as much as 7.1 per cent to Dh2.37 in morning trading on the Dubai Financial Market.

The company has seen major management upheavals over the past year, culminating in the election last week of Abu Dhabi businessman Mohamed Thani Murshed Ghannam Al Rumaithi as its chairman. He replaced Khadem Abdulla Al Qubaisi, who was not nominated for renewed board membership.

The departure of Qubaisi followed the resignation of Hasan Ismaik as chief executive last June after frictions between Ismaik and Arabtec's major shareholder, Aabar Investments.

Arabtec's direct costs reached Dh1.93 billion during the first quarter, up 28 per cent from the corresponding period of last year, the statement showed. Revenues rose only marginally, by 0.2 per cent to Dh1.79 billion.

The company has been negotiating a $36.7 billion scheme to build one million housing units in Egypt, but has not yet announced the signing of a final contract. It has major projects in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.