National Grid plans expansion in US

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The Independent Online

National Grid Transco, the owner of the UK's gas and electricity transmission networks, re-iterated its ambition to expand further into the US market, saying yesterday it had the firepower to finance any takeover opportunity that came along.

National Grid Transco, the owner of the UK's gas and electricity transmission networks, re-iterated its ambition to expand further into the US market, saying yesterday it had the firepower to finance any takeover opportunity that came along.

But Roger Irwin, NGT's chief executive, said it was not pursuing any particular deal and would be "opportunistic" should the right target come into its sights.

NGT reported a 3 per cent increase yesterday in underlying pre-tax profits last year to £1.429bn, despite taking a £200m hit as a result of increased spending on its UK gas pipelines, adverse currency movements, and the mild winter.

NGT is about to complete the sale for £5.8bn of four of its eight UK gas distribution networks, which willfund a £2bn share buy-back and cut its debts by £2.3bn to £10bn. Mr Irwin said there were "significant opportunities" in the US for consolidation and that NGT's balance sheet would not hold it back.

In the UK the group expects the replacement of its cast iron gas mains network to peak at £500m this year. The £15bn programme lasts up to 30 years. It is also investing £500m to expand its LNG import terminal at Isle of Grain, Kent.

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