National Grid says no plan for more U.S. disposals

LONDON Wed Nov 2, 2011 12:45pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - National Grid, Britain's biggest energy distributor, does not plan any more disposals in the U.S. as part of its restructuring efforts, the company's finance director said.

The company has been restructuring its U.S. business after unveiling plans in January to cut 7 percent of its direct workforce in the country, for annual cost savings of about $200 million.

It also sold Seneca, an upstream U.S. oil & gas business, in September, after selling its New Hampshire business last year.

"Those were ancillary businesses bought as part of acquisitions over the years," Finance Director Andrew Bonfield told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. "We have no other business disposals planned in the U.S. for the moment."

Bonfield, who took over as finance director last year, declined to comment on whether National Grid was interested in Portuguese gas and power grid operator REN.

The government of debt-laden Portugal has promised to sell its stake in REN by the end of the year. Local media have mentioned National Grid, Abu Dhabi's IPIC, Colombia's ISA and Cypriot financial group Tufton Oceanic as likely suitors.

"We have an expertise which we believe can add value particularly around transmission networks, and if there are transmission networks that become available, we would be seen as (buyers)," Bonfield said. "But it has to be strategically tied in."

National Grid reports first half results later this month.

Analysts expect the gas and electricity transmission company to post a first-half pretax profit of 1.2 billion pounds, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.

(Additional reporting by Lorraine Turner, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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