Grid director to give his windfall to charity

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The Independent Online

Industrial Correspondent

At least one director of the National Grid Company plans to give the special dividend he gets from the stock market flotation of the distribution company to charity. The move follows political pressure and calls by two electricity companies for Grid directors to forgo their windfall.

John Uttley, finance director, said he would give the pounds 60,000 dividend from his shares to charity after paying tax. But other directors, including the chairman, David Jefferies, who gains about pounds 200,000, declined to say what they will do with their windfall.

The pounds 3.5bn flotation of the National Grid will go ahead on 11 December after payment of the pounds 872.5m special dividend to existing shareholders - mainly the 12 regional electricty companies in England and Wales.

The regional firms are also expected to gain about pounds 300m from the Grid's generation arm, which will be hived off in advance of the float.

The wave of electricity takeovers means that less than half of the shares in the Grid will be listed initially, with six regional firms that have been taken over or are the subject of bids holding back. But the Government, which retains a special share, has demanded that those six companies or their new owners reduce their stake to 1 per cent within a year. Until they sell, the voting rights will in any case be limited to 1 per cent.

The restrictions in voting rights reflect the Government's determination that the Grid should be seen to be independent. Details of the flotation show that the Grid will pay a dividend of pounds 175m in the year to 31 March 1996, net of any tax credit, rising to pounds 190m the following year. The new company will be known as National Grid Group.

Separately it emerged that the nuclear industry, which is soon to be privatised and known as British Energy, could be sold off with up to pounds 4bn of liabilities in its balance sheet.

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