AWG vows to be 'boring' after strategic failures

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The Independent Online

Awgdeclared its disastrous diversification strategy was over yesterday as the water company reported financial results from another "disappointing" year and announced the departure of its finance director.

Awgdeclared its disastrous diversification strategy was over yesterday as the water company reported financial results from another "disappointing" year and announced the departure of its finance director.

Jonson Cox, who took over as chief executive in January, said the company would aim to be "boring" from now on. He reported the findings of a review of the business that he had carried out, which lambasted the company's previous strategy. AWG owns the Anglian Water business in eastern England.

Mr Cox made clear that he did not agree with any of the main strategic decisions made by the previous management, led by Chris Mellor. He said the acquisition of an infrastructure management business, the move to expand overseas and the refinancing of the core water business were too bold. "I don't think the word 'exciting' goes with utilities. Our job is to be boringly predictable in City terms," Mr Cox said.

He added that the company had made "strange" strategic decisions but "the good news is we have a strong underlying water business". "The review has underlined the pivotal role of Anglian Water in the group and its key role in delivering consistent returns for equity investors."

The company took a £118.5m charge, out of total exceptionals of £144.2m, to cover the cost of pulling out of its foreign water and sewerage operations. The charges meant the group lost £79.8m, for the year ended 31 March, following a £42.4m loss last year.

Elliott Mannis, the finance director, will leave at the end of this month. He is entitled to a £235,000 pay-off.

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