Profits down at electricity supplier

Viridian, one of the North's main electricity suppliers, today reported a drop in operating profits for the six months to the end of September.

Viridian, one of the North's main electricity suppliers, today reported a drop in operating profits for the six months to the end of September.

Viridian Group said operating profit was £61.9m (€91.6m), compared to £70.4m (€104.1m) for the same period last year.

Revenue increased to £442.4 m (€654.3m) against £409.3m (€605.4m) a year ago.

Viridian, the parent company of Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), is currently undergoing a take-over after directors accepted a £1.6bn (€2.4m) offer from ElectricInvest, a division of a Bahrain-based private equity company.

Commenting on the interim results, Viridian chief executive Patrick Haren said the operating profits were lower than last year due to a lower contribution from their Viridian Power and Energy businesses and the non-repetition of profits on property last year.

The reduction in operating profits was offset by lower interest and tax charges, he added.

Mr Haren said: “Northern Ireland Electricity’s businesses have delivered good operating performance and we reached agreement with the Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation on the five-year price control which will apply to NIE’s transmission and distribution business with effect from April 2007.

“The construction of the Huntstown 2 power station in Dublin remains on target for completion in autumn 2007 and Energia, our competitive market supply company, continues to build its customer base in the Republic of Ireland.”

Mr Haren said the acquisition by ElectricInvest is expected to become effective on December 8 after the board recommended to shareholders they accept the offer of 1,325p per share.

In addition, shareholders on the register on November 10 would receive an interim dividend of 11p per share, he announced.

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