Seeboard raises dividend by 16%

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SEEBOARD, the regional electricity company based in the South-east, yesterday announced a 16 per cent dividend increase and a one-for-one scrip issue, writes Rupert Bruce.

Sir Keith Stuart, chairman, said the scrip issue should make the shares, up 4p to 708p, more marketable. The 3.3p interim dividend will be paid on all the shares following the scrip issue scheduled for 11 January 1994.

Sir Keith made it clear that the size of the payment had not been boosted by rebalancing the payments between final and interim payouts.

Pre-tax profit was pounds 36.3m in the six months to 30 September. The jump from last year's pounds 9.2m is due to new contracts for the purchase of electricity that have changed the balance of costs between the two halves of the financial year. If last year's interims are adjusted to reflect this, the increase is 9 per cent. Earnings per share are up 10 per cent to 20.3p.

Operating profit in the distribution business increased to pounds 39.3m against pounds 37.3m. There was modest growth in domestic activity and a small decline in industrial.

Seeboard's reorganisation has cost pounds 6.5m in the period, and 500 jobs have gone.

It intends to pay a rebate of about pounds 8 to domestic and some other customers who pay quarterly in the quarter beginning April 1994.