Yorkshire Electric to buy back shares

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire Electricity, one of only five remaining independent regional electricity companies, plans to buy back10 per cent of its shares and raise its dividend next year by a third to 52.66p per share.

The group plans to raise total dividends in the following year, 1997/98, by another 7 per cent, it added at its annual shareholder meeting. The statement sent the shares jumping 26p to 707p.

Chris Hampson, chairman, told shareholders that the next stage of the company's programme of delivering value to shareholders was possible because of the company's "continuing excellent performance".

He added: "The board intends to keep the issue of further returns of value to shareholders under review." This comes just days after some analysts forecast a fresh shareholder bonanza from utilities hoping to pre-empt a possible windfall profit tax levied by an incoming Labour government.

Yorkshire Electricity is also asking shareholders for approval to buy back up to10 per cent of its shares.

Mr Hampson, who chairs one of only three of the original 12 electricity suppliers not to have received a takeover bid amid a wave of offers for the cash-rich companies, said customer prices were the lowest in the country.

Yorkshire Electricity said it was cutting domestic and small-business customers' prices by 6.8 per cent on average from yesterday.

"Our track record of delivering increased efficiency, offering the lowest prices for average general domestic customers and providing excellent returns to our shareholders, underlines our commitment to being among the most successful companies in the sector," Mr Hampson said.