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Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 10:44 GMT
National Grid profits jump
pylon National Grid owns the UK's power transmission lines

Profits at National Grid jumped, helped in part by the sale of part of its stake in loss-making telecoms company Energis.

The National Grid, which owns the UK's power transmission lines, sold part of its stake for 1.2bn earlier this year and as a result it faced lower interest charges, helping pre-tax profits.

Pre-tax profit in the six months to September jumped 20.6m to 248.2m.

The company has been gradually reducing its stake in Energis and it now plans to sell its remaining 46% stake in the next three years.

Energis has an 8bn stock market valuation, but still makes a loss.
nees office National Grid is close to completing NEES deal

In early trade, Energis, the telecoms group fell 64p to 25.85. National Grid itself gained 2p to 503p.

National Grid's interim dividend was raised 6.5% to 5.59 pence.

Fears on health

Meanwhile, controversy over the health effects of living near power lines is likely to increase as two new reports will be published examining the link between cancer and the high-voltage lines.

The studies are expected to show the strongest evidence yet that leukemia and other health problems may result from too-close contact to power lines - a claim strongly denied by the government and the industry.

Over 23,000 UK homes are situated near power lines.

US expansion

National Grid separately announced it was one regulatory step closer to buying New England Electric System ( NEES) in the US.

National Grid bought the US electricity company for $3.2bn last year. It has since bought Eastern Utilities, another US electricity company, for $634m.

In the US on Tuesday, NEES and Eastern Utilities agreed with the Massachussetts authorities to cut and then freeze electricity distribution rates.

National Grid hopes to complete the mergers by early next year.

The current drive into the United States has been triggered by the prospect of deregulation of the European electricity industry, which has put many firms under pressure. Scottish Power has made the biggest acquisition, buying Pacificorp on the West Coast in a $18bn merger.

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See also:
29 Nov 99 |  Health
Fresh evidence on pylon health risks
01 Feb 99 |  The Company File
Another power grab for National Grid
22 Jan 99 |  The Company File
Power raid on New England
27 Jan 99 |  The Company File
UK electricity prices 'too high'

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