Shares in Anglian, which paid 548p, fell by 2p to 546p. City analysts estimate that the company's gearing will increase as a result to about 55 per cent from 38 per cent at the end of last year. Alan Smith, managing director, made a profit of pounds 163,000 by exercising options and selling shares in the market.
Anglian Water marked a first in the water and sewage sector by buying back 10 per cent of its shares at a cost to the company of pounds 162m. The move is expected to create pressure on other water firms to follow suit. Other companies which have permission to repurchase but have not yet done so include Severn Trent Water, Southern Water, Wessex Water and Yorkshire Water.