Weaker sterling hits ESB's first-half profits

Weaker sterling hits ESB's first-half profits
ESB's supply arm has benefited from lower wholesale prices

State-owned electricity company paid €31m 2015 dividend to Exchequer

State-owned electricity company ESB has reported a €50m fall in operating profits for the first half of this year, blaming the impact of a weaker sterling on its group financing costs.

Operating profits were €287m in the period, while pre-tax profits fell from €236m to €70m.

ESB paid a €31m dividend to the Exchequer during the first half in respect of 2015, bringing total dividends in the past ten years to almost €1.5 billion.

“In the face of intensifying competition and lower wholesale electricity prices, these results reflect a strong operating performance across the ESB Group," said finance director Pat Fenlon.

Electric Ireland, ESB’s supply business, reduced electricity prices for residential customers by 6 per cent from the start of June this year and has announced a 5 per cent cut in gas prices from the start of October.

Electric Ireland's profits more than doubled to €57m, helped by lower wholesale electricity prices. But these falls affected profits in ESB's generation and wholesale business, where profits dropped by €28m to €112m. Profits rose, however, at both ESB Networks and Northern Ireland Electricity.

Other areas, including those which control most of the financing costs of the ESB Group, reported an operating loss of €45m compared with a €32m profit in 2015. "This movement primarily relates to a foreign exchange translation loss on sterling denominated inter-company positions," it said.

ESB said it invested €316m in energy infrastructure across the Island of Ireland during the first six months of 2016.

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