Britain’s privatised backbone system operator pleased investors today with strong results for the six months to September.

Against a steady-state base of continuing activities, National Grid Group plc reported half year operating profits up 47% to £1.492 billion, pre-tax earnings 75% ahead at £ 0.99 billion, and earnings per share up 66%.

All were achieved while pushing forward outlay on wires, fuses and towers by 15%, to £2.8 billion.   Somewhat surprisingly, declared dividend advanced by only an inflation-blind 1%.

Completing the £7.8 billion purchase of Britain’s biggest DNO Western Power Distribution, perking up American businesses and preparing to bid farewell to UK gas, plus commissioning the 1.4 GW North Sea Link to Norway, on which the company spent £620 million, were among operational highlights picked out by NG chief executive John Pettigrew.

“I’m very pleased with the Group’s financial, strategic and regulatory progress”, Pettigrew declared. “In the UK, we have made a strong start to the new RIIO-T2 period in electricity transmission, and we are preparing our business plan submission for WPD”.

Internal re-configuring around seven business units is projected to be saving at least £400m each year by 2024.

For the full year ending next March, NG expects to boost operating profit by around £100 million, thanks to that North Sea interconnector, coupled with higher auction prices across its remaining international cables.

Investment in National Grid Ventures, the firm’s hub for big infrastructure engineering, dropped after IFA2, its second link to France was commissioned in January.

Absent from Pettigrew’s remarks however was any mention of a likely date of full service restoration through IFA1. A fire over the summer in Britain’s fattest international pipe, co-owned with NG’s French opposite number RTE, is likely to cut 1GW from Britain’s interconnection capacity at least until 2023.

By late afternoon, the operator’s shares had ticked 0.66% higher on the LSE.

More on National Grid’s six months’ results here.


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