July 27, 2020 / 12:13 PM / 11 days ago

Italgas sees no major impact from COVID-19 on business this year

FILE PHOTO: An Italgas vehicle is seen in front of Milan's stock exchange headquater, in Milan, Italy, November 7 ,2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest gas distributor Italgas said on Monday it did not expect COVID-19 to impact its business significantly this year after reporting first-half earnings just above forecasts.

In the first six months, Italgas reported a 6.6% rise in core earnings to 462.7 million euros ($542 million) compared to an analyst consensus of 461 million euros.

But the company warned it was not in a position to estimate the negative impact on business in the coming years of any significant prolongation of the health emergency.

Italy was one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 and there has been some concern about the risks for key energy facilities should the crisis persist.

Like other energy grid companies, Italgas has been spending on technology to run its grids more efficiently and offer clients services such as remote gas meter readings and gas leakage detection.

In the first six months investments rose 16% to almost 370 million euros.

“Thanks to the digital transformation of the last three years ... we have been able to ensure safety and continuity of service during lockdown,” CEO Paolo Gallo said.

Italgas, which manages 73,000 kilometres of network, said it would continue plans to expand in Italy by competing in gas distribution tenders.

It also said further acquisitions could be completed this year following those it made last year.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans

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