SSE confirms dividend plans and listing of UK retail business

Katie Bickerstaffe will start as the new executive chair of SSE Energy Services next month “with a mandate to deliver a new future for the business outside of the SSE group”

sse plc
SSE hiked its dividend but will cut the payout for the coming year

SSE PLC (LON:SSE) reported profits in line with market forecasts and said it still plans to exit the UK energy retail market, with a listing or sale of its SSE Energy Services business.

The energy group generated an adjusted profit before tax of £725.7mln, powering down 38% from the year before, with wholesale operating profits down 71%, networks up 9% and the retail business down 2%.

READ: SSE calls off Npower merger amid worries about price cap and competition

Adjusted net debt and hybrid capital stood at £9.39bn at the end of March and guidance from the board indicated it will be around £10bn at the end of this year.

A final dividend of 68.2p made for a full-year payout of 97.5p per share, while it confirmed the cut to the full-year dividend to 80p per share for the new fiscal year.

Late last year, Perthshire-based SSE was disappointed to scrap the merger of its retail division with Germany’s Innogy amid worries about the UK government’s price cap, tough competition in the market and trading collateral requirements.

On Wednesday, the group said that former non-executive director Katie Bickerstaffe will start as the new executive chair of SSE Energy Services next month, alongside a new finance chief, “with a mandate to deliver a new future for the business outside of the SSE group and continue progress towards a listing or new, alternative ownership by the second half of 2020”.

Given greater day-to-day autonomy, the independent board will have the priority of ensuring the business “has the strongest possible track record as it approaches a future outside the group”.

For the group as a whole in the coming year, SSE said adjusted operating profit was “improving but likely to be negatively impacted by expected phasing of profits” in regulated electricity networks and by renewable output being hedged at less than current market prices.

SSE shares were down almost 2% to 1,026p, skirting above levels not seen since 2006.

Quick facts: SSE PLC

Price: 1324.5 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £13.8 billion

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