Covid-19 delays SSE report, may hit dividend payments

SSE has signalled a potential rescheduling or reduction in dividend payments during the coming year to manage the effects of Coronavirus.

The company said in an update on 27 March that it still planned to recommend dividends of 80p per share, because there was little material impact from Covid-19 on 2019/2020 results. But it added, “the Board’s final decision on the quantum and timing of dividend payments in relation to 2020/21 will be taken in light of the extent of the impact of the wider economic situation on SSE’s businesses”. It added, “This final decision will also have regard to the associated expectations of all of SSE’s key stakeholder groups”.

SSE says the “wide range of practical steps” taken in line with government guidance Covid-19, will delay its results for the year to 31 March to the second half of June. Issues that affect the audit process include travel and access to key offices.

The company also said that despite its robust business model, “like other companies [it] is operating in an unprecedented situation and is continuing to plan for a range of scenarios in the coming months.”It will review operational expenditure plans and also capital expenditure plans for projects that have not reached financial close.
The annual report will show reduced operating profit in the networks part of the business, as expected, due to reduced electricity volumes and higher network faults. That would be offset by a 25% increase in operating profitin renewables because there was a full year of output from the Beatrice wind farm.

Meanwhile the company’s Fiddlers Ferry coal-fired plant has shut down permanently. The planned closure was announced nine months ago and took effect on 30 March.

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