Yorkshire lifts payout 15%

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YORKSHIRE Electricity, the privatised utility company, rewarded shareholders yesterday with a 15 per cent dividend rise, writes John Murray.

The dividend increase to 20.42p came on earnings per share 11 per cent higher at 53.7p and prompted the shares to rise 5p to 496p. Profits before tax were pounds 156.3m (pounds 141.9m) for the year to 31 March, despite a fall in turnover from pounds 1.34bn to pounds 1.32bn.

The drop in sales reflected an average reduction of 3.5 per cent in the company's prices, but that was more than offset by a 7.9 per cent decline in underlying operating costs.

John Tysoe, chairman, said the principal development during the year was the reorganisation of Yorkshire's core power distribution business into three divisions. Capital expenditure on the distribution network rose pounds 9m to pounds 58m. He added that the company was sticking to its strategy of diversifying only in other utility areas such as generation, telecommunications and gas retailing.

Yorkshire is to link up with East Midlands Electricity in a retailing joint venture to be called Homepower.