Thursday 04 November 1999
The truism that water and electricity do not mix has been borne out by the share prices of the multi-utilities over the past 12 months. While ScottishPower may not be in as bad a shape as, say, Hyder, things are clearly not that good either.
It does not take much reading between the lines of yesterday's interim results statement to see that it is stuck between a rock and a hard place - either a dividend cut or an appeal to the Competition Commission with no guarantee of success.
ScottishPower is juggling with three electricity and one water price reviews which in itself represents a huge drain on management time. Of the four, the one it seems most bruised about is Ian Byatt's proposal that Southern Water slash its prices by pounds 70m next year, most of which will be reflected in lower profits.
The two Ians who run ScottishPower, Robinson and Russell, still think the other Ian will change his mind but the chances of that are slim.
Perversely, the response of ScottishPower shares yesterday was to rise strongly. That, however, had more to do with the market's perception that the Scots' pounds 4bn takeover of the US utility, PacifiCorp, is finally about to happen a year after the deal was first unveiled.
ScottishPower has been warming up the analysts by pointing to the price increases and cost savings it can look forward to in PacifiCorp's West Coast markets once the deal goes through.
But if ScottishPower's experience here teaches us anything, it is that the regulatory vice is only ever turned in one direction. The Scots think they can show the Yanks a thing or two about how to run utilities.
But the US regulators are also taking a lesson or two from their UK counterparts by moving away from profit capping and towards incentive regulation. ScottishPower's regulatory risk can only multiple even further.
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
If Surrey were Syria: Social experiment shows what it's like to live under siege
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...