U.S. Markets closed

Eletrobras' profit down 96 percent with losses on power distribution

(Adds earnings details)

SAO PAULO, May 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-controlled power utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA posted a net income of 56 million reais ($15.33 million) in the first quarter, down 96 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Eletrobras, as the company is known, reported in a securities filing late on Wednesday that heavy losses in some power distribution subsidiaries - the ones the company has been looking to sell - were one of the main factors behind the weak quarterly result.

The company also reported increasing provisions for possible charges related to its voluntary buyout plan and added 174 million reais of impairments from adjusting values of some assets.

Brazil's largest electricity company said its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, a common gauge of operational profitability known as EBITDA, was 1.244 billion reais, down 70 percent from the same period one year earlier.

Eletrobras has been included in the government's national privatization program. But a draft bill outlining the steps to sell the company has faced a slow progress in the Congress.

The company is trying to sell six money-losing power distribution companies in the North and Northeast regions in Brazil since last year, a process that is taking longer than expected.

It reported a net loss of 1.9 billion reais in its power distribution business in the first quarter, which dented its overall performance in the period. Its subsidiary Amazonas Energia, one of the companies it put up for sale, lost alone 1.33 billion reais in the quarter.

($1 = 3.6529 reais) (Reporting by Carolina Mandl and Luciano Costa; Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Adrian Croft and Bill Trott)