National Grid ‘to sell stake in gas network’

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National Grid has announced the potential sale of a majority stake in its gas distribution business in an effort to rebalance its portfolio.

It confirms media reports from the weekend, which claimed the total gas network could be worth as much as £10 billion.

The operator has 82,000 miles (131,966km) of pipeline, which delivers gas to around 11 million customers.

The potential sale is planned for the second half of its financial year and would allow the firm to deliver a growing dividend to shareholders, chief executive Steve Holliday said.

“In the second half of 2015/16 we will begin a process to rebalance our portfolio through the potential sale of a majority stake in our UK gas distribution business.

“The UK gas distribution business has been an important part of National Grid and the sale of a majority stake will realise some of the value we have created for our shareholders.”

The group made the announcement in its first-half results, which saw adjusted operating profits increase 14% £1.8 billion. Profit before tax was £1.3 billion, up 21% on the same period last year.

Commenting on the results, Mr Holliday said: “Our business has delivered a strong performance in the first half of the year while maintaining high standards of safety and reliability for our customers and increasing our level of investment.

“Headline profits have benefited from an excellent performance from our interconnectors and property activities, which are strongly weighted towards the first half.”