EDF hit by 74 per cent profits drop

The French energy giant EDF yesterday blamed a 74 per cent drop in annual profits on gas and electricity markets still depressed by the economic slowdown.

A €2.9bn (£2.4bn) provision to cover the effect of low energy prices saw earnings slide from €3.9bn to €1bn, on sales up by 10 per cent to €65bn.

The writedowns were spread across a number of the group's global businesses, including the US and Italy.

In the UK, EDF revenues fell by 4.9 per cent to €11bn, hit by lower energy prices and the unexpected shutdown of the Sizewell B nuclear power station, the company said.

Disposals including the sale of the EDF's UK networks business helped to cut EDF's debt by €8.2bn to €34.4bn. The company is also planning to boost operating earnings by between 4 and 6 per cent this year, maintaining its dividend at €1.15 per share.

In France, a major overhaul of the electricity market could push EDF to sell as much as 25 per cent of the output of its nuclear power stations.

Henri Proglio, the EDF chief executive, above, said: "The newly remodelled group offers good growth perspectives for 2011. It regained the room for manoeuvre necessary to deploy a profitable industrial development strategy in France and outside France."