Comparisons in the generation game
Tuesday 07 February 1995
One theory was that National Power was simply reacting to PowerGen's glossier image among investors by stealing a march on the dividend front.
On most grounds, the two companies' long-term prospects are equally attractive. The generosity of the dividends confirms, as if proof were needed, the power firms' ability to rake in money from a semi-protected market, whose price regime has conspicuously failed to set enough of a market discipline.
The regulator, Professor Stephen Littlechild, is attempting to tighten up, by pressing for the sale of some power plants and by belatedly having another go at prices charged to customers. Lurking in the background is the threat of a reference to the Monopolies Commission if he finds there is not enough will to change.
But it would take several years for the impact of a reference to work through.
In the meantime, the power companies are discovering that high dividends now overcome a lot of their investors fears about the future.
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