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SSE Airtricity makes £6m bad debt provision over coronavirus

SSE Airtricity has recorded an exceptional charge of £6m (€6.7m) as a provision against bad debts arising from the coronavirus in Ireland.

ut it still recorded a profit of £42.8m (€48m) in respect of its operations across the island of Ireland in the 12 months to the end of March, up on the £38.6m (€43m) reported the prior year.

The company, which supports 3,740 jobs here, said it is continuing to advance its Arklow Bank offshore wind project, which it said is “well placed” to help Ireland achieve its Climate Action Plan target of 1GW of offshore wind power by 2025 and 3.5GW by 2030.

SSE said it retains “a strong market position” as Ireland’s largest supplier of 100pc green energy, supplying more than 700,000 customers across the island of Ireland with a 24pc market share.

The SSE group confirmed its full-year dividend and posted a better than expected annual pre-tax profit yesterday, but warned the coronavirus crisis would dent earnings for the current financial year.

The company turned its focus to renewable power generation and networks after selling its household energy supply and services arm to OVO Energy at the beginning of the year in a deal worth £500m.

SSE’s adjusted profit before tax rose to £1.02bn for the 12 months ended March 31, beating analysts’ estimates of £959.3m.

Its shares rose more than 5pc early yesterday in London and had soared more than 9pc by later in the afternoon.

SSE said it would stick with the planned full-year dividend of 80p per share for 2018-19, with the final 56p share payment to be made on September 18, 2020.

“We have put in place a comprehensive plan to achieve the related objectives of sustaining the dividend payments which provides vital income for people’s pensions and savings,” said SSE chairman Richard Gillingwater.

Meanwhile, Budget Energy, the power firm recently acquired by DCC’s Flogas unit, made a pre-tax profit of just over £3m in its last financial year, newly-filed accounts for the business show.

Budget Energy’s main business is in Northern Ireland, but it also launched in the Republic of Ireland in 2017. Budget Energy trades as BE Energy here, and has a total of more than 90,000 customers.

Accounts for the group show that it had just under 70,000 customers at the end of September last year.

Last year, Flogas bought the Irish business of Canadian firm Just Energy.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Irish Independent

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Democrats needed a good debate, but got a bad one

This comparatively coherent competition of philosophies, however, occurred well past the halfway point of the debate, aired by CBS News and co-hosted by Twitter.

The first half of the debate was a more blurred affair. All candidates were taking shots at Sanders, so at first blush one might suppose that six-against-one math worked against him. In fact, much of the time it worked for him, since his rivals were each making differently nuanced cases against him and several seemed more animated by taking on other people.

Elizabeth Warren, for instance, said she agrees with much of Sanders’ program and agrees with him that it is more popular than more centrist candidates claim. But she argued, “I would make a better president than Bernie.”

“And the reason for that,” she continued, “is that getting a progressive agenda enacted is going to be really hard, and it’s going to take someone who digs into the details to make it happen.”

This was far from the rhetorical hot oil that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw in Sanders’ face: “Vladimir Putin thinks that Donald Trump should be president of the United States. And that’s why Russia is helping you get elected, so you will lose to him.”

Biden, likewise, questioned Sanders’ loyalty to Barack Obama, whose legacy looms large among the heavily African-American electorate here. “He said we should primary Barack Obama,” during his 2012 re-election, “and [that] the president was weak and our administration was in fact not up to it.”

Biden also clashed with billionaire and liberal activist Tom Steyer, who returned to the stage after failing to qualify for a recent debate in Nevada. Some polls suggest that Steyer’s advertising is succeeding in winning him a significant share of South Carolina Democrats. If Biden does not win the state on Saturday and show convincingly that he can command the support of minority voters who are the Democrats’ most loyal constituency, his candidacy is functionally over. Weakness among these same constituencies is also leaving the candidacies of Warren, Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar gasping for air.

Klobuchar has said she worked cooperatively with Sanders in the Senate but that he is too impractical and too radical in his spending to be a good presidential nominee. “The math does not add up,” said Klobuchar, who did not repeat the tense exchanges with Buttigieg that marked recent debates. “In fact, just on ‘60 Minutes’ this weekend, he said he wasn’t going to rattle through the nickels and the dimes. Well, let me tell you how many nickels and dimes we’re talking about: nearly $60 trillion.”

For his part, Steyer said, “Sanders’ analysis is right” about the defects of an untrammeled private sector but not his proposed remedies. “We all know, unchecked capitalism has failed,” Steyer said. “The answer is not for the government to take over the private sector, though. The answer is for us to break the corporate stranglehold on our government and have the government work for the people again.”

Unlike his first debate appearance a week ago, Bloomberg did not obviously lay a rotten egg this time. But with testy responses to Warren about his record on women, an awkward attempt at self-deprecating humor over his first debate performance, and no crisp or sustained argument, he demonstrated abundantly that this is not his natural setting. If he keeps momentum going in the race—he entered too late to be on the ballot in South Carolina—it will be on the strength of his self-financed advertising alone.

Of course, there was no evidence that this particular debate stage was any candidate’s natural setting. Nor was it a win for Democrats wondering about the party’s future. There were plenty of legitimate things to argue about, and for stretches this actually occurred. But for longer stretches it didn’t. This was mostly a wasted couple hours for a party and for candidates who don’t have time to waste.

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#Conservative win marks bad day for people of Britain, says #GUE/NGL

A statement by GUE/NGL Co-President Martin Schirdewan on the Conservative Party’s victory in the British general election: “Today is a sad day for people living in Britain.

“It is bitterly disappointing that the message of hope has not carried in the face of a dirty and dishonest campaign by the Conservatives.

“Voters who had voted for change, for an end to austerity, for social and tax justice, will now have to endure a government bent on social inequality, deregulation, discrimination and xenophobia.

“It is also now clear that Britain will be leaving the EU at the end of January. As the Left in the European Parliament, we will continue to hold the British government to their commitments under The Good Friday Agreement,” he added.

“Furthermore, we will protect the interests of people across the EU in the negotiations on the future relationship. We will also seek to safeguard the interests of the people in Britain, and will work with the broader labour movement and progressive forces in Britain to this end,” said Schirdewan.

Also commenting on the vote’s impact on Brexit, Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin, Ireland) said: “The people in the North of Ireland want to remain in the EU. The result of this election shows that the only way that this can happen is through Irish unity – a referendum on which is guaranteed under The Good Friday Agreement.”


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Tags: Brexit, eu, featured, full-image, General Election, UK

Category: A Frontpage, Brexit, EU, EU, European Parliament, UK

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