Sunday, 18 November, 2018

SSE and innogy to adjust terms of merger

Electricity pylons Merger of SSE and npower is hanging in the balance
Rhonda Young | 11 November, 2018, 00:51

Regulator Ofgem proposed the price cap on default energy bills - those to which customers default once fixed price periods end - to save households about 1 billion pounds ($1.31 billion) a year.

SSE said it is likely that completion of the deal will be delayed beyond the first quarter of 2019, but all work to "seek to achieve the formation and listing of the new company will continue".

If the mega merger still goes ahead, it will amount to one of the biggest shake-ups of the United Kingdom energy market for years, reducing the big six to five and creating a firm with similar scale to British Gas for the first time.

The regulator said it will cap average default electricity and gas bills at 1,137 pounds a year from January 1, a level well below the most-used tariffs set by the country's big six suppliers.

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SSE issued a profit warning in September after the company was hit by lower output from its wind farms and high gas prices.

In separate statements issued yesterday evening (8 November), both SSE and innogy, the parent company of United Kingdom supply firm npower, revealed that the two had entered into discussions to renegotiate the terms of the merger agreement first disclosed in November a year ago.

However Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE, maintained it continued to believe that "creating a new, independent energy supplier has the potential to deliver real benefits for customers and the market as a whole" and that this remained the objective.

As a result, the two companies are heading back to the negotiating table over the coming weeks, with a progress update due to be provided by mid-December.

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However, SSE said it was now not likely to be done by then.

Innogy said in a statement that "adverse developments in the United Kingdom retail market and regulatory interventions such as the price cap have had a significant impact on the outlook for the combined retail company".

Martin Herrmann, of Innogy SE, said the new negotiations would include "potential additional direct or indirect financial contributions by each party". The group specifically examined competition concerns around how the deal would impact standard variable tariff (SVT) prices. Consumers in Northern Ireland have a separate energy regulator and already have a price cap.

More than half of all households in Britain are on default tariffs because they have never switched or have not done so recently.

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