United Utilities weighs spin-offs

UNITED UTILITIES, the North-west-based electricity and water group, is ready to consider spinning off of its facilities management arm, Vertex, and its telecoms management operation in a few years' time. Finance director Bob Ferguson said yesterday that a partial sale of the businesses would be considered.

Vertex, which provides call centre, billing, payment and IT services for other organisations, won its first private-sector contract with Littlewoods, the retailing and pools group, in May. Last week it signed a pounds 21m deal with the London Borough of Ealing. United's pre-tax profit in the half to the end of September was pounds 214.2m, up 3.5 per cent.

United's chief executive, Derek Green, attacked the water regulator's proposals for price cuts and bans on disconnections which he said would reduce the earnings flow for the industry."