November 29, 2019 / 8:06 AM / 10 days ago

UK's Thames Water posts higher profit on lower costs

(Reuters) - Thames Water Utilities Ltd, Britain’s largest water and wastewater services provider, posted a rise in first-half underlying operating profit on Friday, as it worked to stem costs and added customers.

The company said it was progressing in restructuring the business to cut costs, and was in advanced stages of recruiting a new chief executive officer after Steve Robertson stepped down in May.

A media report in early November said Thames Water has identified current CEO of UK Power Networks, Basil Scarsella, as the top contender for the job.

Britain’s water industry regulator in July criticised spending plans of four water companies to cover the cost of their basic services from next year that would lead to higher charges for customers.

Underlying operating profit rose to 301.2 million pounds for the six months ended Sept. 30, from 224 million pounds a year earlier.

Revenue for the fist half rose slightly to 1.01 billion pounds.

The company also said it will not pay dividends to external shareholders as part of a decision to not pay returns to external shareholders for the three years to 2019-20.

“As we near the end of a challenging price review process, our long-term investors continue to support the prioritisation of historically high investment levels over the taking of dividends”, interim Executive Chairman Ian Marchant said.

Thames Water also said it had seen its biggest leakage reduction in 20 years, months after top British water companies announced business plans aimed at reducing leakages and improving service while controlling prices after their performance was questioned during the country’s hottest summer in decades.

Reporting by Shanima A and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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