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Uniper gets lift as British capacity market comes back to life

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By Reuters
Uniper gets lift as British capacity market comes back to life
FILE PHOTO: A logo of German energy utility company Uniper SE is pictured in the company's headquarter in Duesseldorf, Germany, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen   -   Copyright  THILO SCHMUELGEN(Reuters)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany utility Uniper <UN01.DE> lifted its full-year earnings outlook after the British power capacity market programme was recently revived, adding it might also increase its dividend proposal for 2019.

The British government last month gave the go-ahead to reinstate the power capacity market scheme after the European Commission approved it, compensating utilities for making capacity available regardless of whether it is delivered.

Uniper, subject to a takeover bid by Finnish state-owned company Fortum <FORTUM.HE>, said it was now targeting 750 million euros (646.3 million pounds) to 950 million euros in 2019 adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT).

It previously aimed for 550-850 million.

“In our business, the third quarter is usually the weakest,” Chief Financial Officer Sascha Bibert said after adjusted operating profit declined 47% to 203 million euros in the first nine months of the year.

“But a strong fourth quarter lies ahead, one that will have a number of positive developments for our business.”

Uniper said it also saw scope for a higher dividend proposal for 2019 following the raised outlook. It has so far forecast that it will raise dividend payments by 18.5% to 390 million euros, which indicated a dividend of about 1.07 euros per share.

This compares with a Refinitiv estimate for 1.08 euros apiece.

Shares in the group were indicated to open 3.6% higher. A local trader said the raised outlook “underlines the bullish Uniper (view) build on expectations for a Fortum bid”.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Ludwig Burger; Editing by Tom Brown and Michelle Martin)