SSE Plc Trading Statement -

SSE plc completed the third quarter of its financial year on 31 December 2018. This Trading Statement:

·     reiterates SSE's intention to recommend a full-year dividend for 2018/19 of 97.5 pence per share and to deliver the five-year dividend plan set out in May 2018;

·     sets out SSE's current assessment that the Capacity Market 'standstill period' means it is unlikely to receive, or be able to recognise, contracted income from the Capacity Market until after this financial year, resulting in an estimated 6p reduction in current year adjusted earnings per share (EPS)* which takes the forecast for adjusted EPS in 2018/19 to be in the range of 64p to 69p;

·     confirms the options that SSE is assessing for the future of SSE Energy Services, which remains held for disposal; and

·     summarises the positive progress SSE has made with its capital investment programme for 2018/19.  This is still expected to total around £1.7bn, including around £1.1bn in regulated electricity networks and renewable energy.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, Chief Executive of SSE, said:

"We continue to make good progress in our core businesses of regulated energy networks and renewable energy, complemented by flexible thermal generation and business energy sales. We have also demonstrated our ability to create value for shareholders through the recent sales of stakes in our telecoms business and selected onshore wind farms with expected proceeds of over £1bn.  We are also making progress in assessing the options for the future of the Energy Services business. 

"SSE has a clear strategy and good long-term prospects for its high-quality core businesses and assets that contribute to the transition to a low carbon economy and will support the creation of value and delivery of our dividend plan in the years to come."

FUTURE OPTIONS FOR SSE ENERGY SERVICES

SSE Energy Services is expected to be profitable and cash flow positive (excluding working capital movements) in 2018/19 and 2019/20 and continues to deliver strong performance for customers, across a wide range of measures.  These include ranking second of 34 suppliers in the recent Citizens Advice energy supplier performance rankings, industry-leading performance on Guaranteed Standards and ranking best for complaint handling in Ofgem's 2018 customer satisfaction survey.

SSE believes that SSE Energy Services will be best positioned to build on this strong performance in a future outside of the SSE group. With that in mind, SSE is continuing to build on the significant work done to date to separate SSE Energy Services as an independent, self-sufficient entity within the group, in preparation for its future outside it.

Future options are now being assessed for SSE Energy Services.  These include: a standalone demerger and listing on either the premium or the standard listing segment of the Official List; a sale; or an alternative transaction. If none of the other options is viable SSE may retain Energy Services as a separate, ring-fenced business within the SSE group that would be expected to be cash flow positive.  These options are being assessed, taking into consideration the best interests of customers, employees and shareholders, and with the support of external advisers.  SSE will provide a further update on the progress of its assessment of the options by the end of March 2019.

VALUE CREATION FROM INVESTMENT

SSE's investment and capital expenditure is still expected to be around £6bn over the five-year period to March 2023.  Economically-regulated electricity networks and renewable sources of energy are expected to account for around 70% of this.

For 2018/19, SSE still expects that its capital and investment expenditure will total around £1.7bn, including SSE Energy Services.  In the nine months since 1 April 2018 it has totalled £1.2bn and included:

·     Around £500m in electricity networks.  Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks continues to upgrade the electricity transmission network and to invest to improve service quality for electricity distribution customers.  The recent completion of the Caithness-Moray transmission link and investment in other projects is expected to take the total net Regulated Asset Value of all of SSE's economically-regulated networks businesses, including its share of SGN, to around £9bn by 2020 and £10bn by 2023.

·     Around £400m in renewable energy.  SSE has completed the 228MW Stronelairg onshore wind farm and the Beatrice offshore wind farm (SSE share: 235MW) remains on course for completion in the Spring.  Following the sale of stakes in Stronelairg and Dunmaglass onshore wind farms and completion of Beatrice, SSE's total capacity for renewable energy will be 4,030MW.  SSE is progressing its plans to consolidate the development, operation and ownership of its renewable energy assets under a single entity to be known as SSE Renewables.

NOTIFICATION OF CLOSED PERIOD

SSE will issue a Notification of Close Period Statement on Thursday 28 March 2019 and its Full Year 2018/19 Preliminary Results on Wednesday 22 May 2019.