National Grid to sell majority stake in gas pipeline business

National Grid plans to sell a majority stake in its gas pipeline business.

National Grid plans to sell a majority stake in its gas pipeline business. - Credit: Archant

National Grid said today that it plans to sell a majority stake in its gas distribution business, which includes East Anglia, in a move to “rebalance” its asset portfolio.

The group, which also owns the UK’s electricity transmission network, confirmed media reports at the weekend which valued the gas business at up to £10billion.

National Grid owns about 82,000 miles of pipeline, which delivers gas to around 11million customers, mainly across central England.

Chief executive Steve Holliday said the potential sale was planned for the second half of the group’s financial year and would allow it to deliver an increased dividend for shareholders.

“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,” he said.

“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 alongside its first-half results, which saw adjusted operating profits for the six months to September 30 increase 14% £1.8billion, with pProfit before tax up 21% at £1.3bn,

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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.”

National Grid was formed in 1990 as part of the privatisation of the electricity industry and was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1995.

In 2002 it merged with gas distribution business Transco which had originally been privatised as part of British Gas in 1986 before becoming part of BG plc in 1997, under a split which also saw the formation of Centrica, and then being demerged as a stand-alone business in 2000.

In 2004, the group sold four regional gas distribution networks but retained four others, covering East Anglia, London, the Midlands, and parts of the North West and Wales, which form the basis of the business in which it is now to sell a majority stake.