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Rating Action:

MOODY'S CONFIRMS A2/P-1 RATINGS OF LONDON ELECTRICITY FOLLOWING ACQUISITION OF SUTTON BRIDGE POWER STATION

10 Mar 2000
MOODY'S CONFIRMS A2/P-1 RATINGS OF LONDON ELECTRICITY FOLLOWING ACQUISITION OF SUTTON BRIDGE POWER STATION Moody's Investors Service has confirmed the A2 long-term rating and Prime-1 short-term rating of London Electricity plc ("LE") following the announcement of the acquisition of Sutton Bridge Power ("SBP") by an affiliate of LE, London Power Company Limited. Although the group will be funding the acquisition in cash, the acquisition of SBP will be of considerable strategic value to LE and LE's ultimate parent Electricit‚ de France (rated Aaa) has demonstrated a clear commitment to the UK power market. Accordingly, Moody's has confirmed the ratings with stable outlook.


Subject to bondholder and regulatory consent, London Power Company has agreed to buy Enron's equity interest in SBP for œ156 million, plus an adjustment for working capital. SBP owns and operates a new 790MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power station at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, England. As a separate agreement LE has also entered into a long-term agreement to buy gas from Enron. The funding for the development of the power station was on a project finance basis and, separately, Moody's has also confirmed the Baa3 long-term debt rating of the project finance vehicle, Sutton Bridge Financing Limited guaranteed by SBP. Bondholders of Sutton Bridge Financing Limited will have no recourse to LE.


In June 1999, LE bought the supply business of South Western Electricity for œ160m. This business has now been integrated into LE's own supply business and the company now serves a total of 3.3 million electricity customers. LE also has around 250,000 gas customers and through London Power Company owns a 13.5% share in a 1,000MW CCGT power station in Barking, Essex. Both LE and London Power Company are subsidiaries of an intermediate holding company, London Electricity Group plc which was previously called EDF London Investments plc.


The group, through its part ownership of Barking Power and the considerable amount EDF supplies through the 2,000MW interconnector between France and the UK, has considerable generation capacity. However, LE have said for some time that they were looking for additional generation capacity as a hedge for their growing supply business.


Separately, in response to the recent UK regulatory review, LE has announced that it intends to merge its distribution staff with those of Eastern Electricity forming a new joint venture company with the aim of eliminating duplicated costs. The joint venture should be in place by April 2000 by when 400 jobs will have been cut from the merged labour force. The companies expect to reduce the combined labour force by a further 400 over the following 18 months. The current combined workforce of the two distribution businesses is approximately 3,200 (Eastern 1,800 and London Electricity 1,400). Eastern and London Electricity will continue to own their own physical assets and operating licenses. In time, OFGEM will look at the savings this joint venture generates but this will not effect the companies' tariffs until the next regulatory review period. Moody's believes that this is a sensible and effective response to the regulator's tariff review and that these cost cuts plus the less demanding capital expenditure programme should compensate for lost revenues maintaining existing cashflow.


EdF, headquartered in Paris, France is one of the world's largest electric utilities and reported turnover of approximately GBP 20 billion for the year ended 31 December 1998. EdF currently supplies around 6% of the UK generation market via an undersea interconnector. London Electricity, headquartered in London, England is one of twelve Regional Electricity Companies.

No Related Data.
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