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RWE books strong 2017 ahead of mega-deal with EON

RWE books strong 2017 ahead of mega-deal with EON

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Mar 13: German energy firm RWE said Thursday it beat forecasts with higher net profits last year, firming the group’s position ahead of a massive asset swap with rival EON that could redraw the sector, reports AFP. The Essen-based company reported net profits of 1.9 billion euros ($2.3 billion) for 2017, boosted by a windfall refund of a tax on nuclear fuel it had been paying since 2011. Analysts surveyed by Factset had predicted a result of 1.2 billion euros. RWE’s performance last year compared with a massive loss of 5.7 billion euros in 2016, when it was forced to write down the value of some assets due to lower wholesale electricity prices. The group’s operating, or underlying profit increased 7.0 percent, to 5.8 billion euros, on the back of revenues 2.7 percent lower at 44.6 billion. It said better results in its power generation and energy trading divisions and a continued cost-cutting drive had paid off, while renewable-energy subsidiary Innogy also upped its performance. The group also cut its net debt by 2.5 billion euros, to 20.2 billion. “All of this forms a good basis for the future as we move forward with a sharp focus on our core business: ensuring security of supply,” chief executive Rolf Martin Schmitz said in a statement. RWE’s financial report comes the day after it confirmed plans for a massive asset swap with rival EON that would see the competitor firm take over RWE’s stake in Innogy. The deal is the latest step in the gradual German “Energiewende” or energy transition away from nuclear and fossil fuels and towards renewables. After further exchanges of cash and assets the deal, slated for completion by the end of 2019, will see RWE focus on energy generation with both renewables and traditional fossil fuel and nuclear plants. Meanwhile EON will specialise in retail customer relationships and managing energy networks. If approved by competition authorities the transaction would make RWE Europe’s third-largest renewable energy producer. On the fossil fuels side of the business it is also becoming slightly cleaner, with natural gas outweighing coal and nuclear at 40 percent of RWE’s production capacity last year. In its current form, RWE forecasts an adjusted net profit of between 700 million euros and 1.0 billion for 2018, down from 1.2 billion euros last year. “2018 will merely reflect the full impact of the very low levels of electricity prices seen in past years,” the group said. Meanwhile adjusted operating profits are also expected to fall, to between 4.9 and 5.2 billion euros compared with 2017’s 5.8 billion. RWE plans to offer shareholders a 1.50-euro dividend for the year including a one-off special dividend of 1.0 euro. 2018’s ordinary dividend should increase to 0.70 euros, the firm said.

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