SSE intends to pay dividend amid coronavirus crisis

Perth-based energy giant SSE plc said on Friday the coronavirus crisis “has not so far had any material impact” on its financial results for 2019-20 — and said its board still intends to recommend a full-year dividend of 80p per share for the year.  

In a stock exchange statement, SSE said: “2019/20 … SSE expects that its adjusted earnings per share will be at the lower end of the expected 83p to 88p range indicated in January 2020; this is before any Covid-19-impacts that may become apparent and need to be reflected in the financial statements for the year.  

“The Covid-19 outbreak started in the UK and Ireland late in SSE’s financial year and the wider economic impact of it in the UK and Ireland has not so far had any material impact on SSE’s financial results for 2019/20; and so the board still intends to recommend a full-year dividend of 80 pence per share for 2019/20.  

“It will, however, continue to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on the wider economy and SSE. 

“If the economic impact results in significant adverse effects on SSE’s businesses, the board’s responses may include reconsidering the timing of dividend payments, should it be in the long-term interests of the company.”

In terms of liquidity, SSE said it has £1.5 billion of committed bank facilities comprising “a £200m bilateral facility with Bank of China maturing in October 2024; and the £1.3bn Revolving Credit Facility, for which SSE recently exercised an option to extend for one year, taking the maturity to March 2025 …

“Of these facilities, £75m is currently drawn. To cover debt maturities later in the year, SSE will continue to monitor closely capital markets and look to issue new debt when appropriate.”

For 2020-21, SSE said: “It is much too early to forecast with accuracy the human, social and economic impact of Covid-19 in the coming months; or its impact on companies such as SSE. 

“SSE has a robust business model, but like other companies is operating in an unprecedented situation and is continuing to plan for a range of scenarios in the coming months.

“In line with the five-year dividend plan set out in May 2018, SSE’s target for 2020/21 remains a full-year dividend of 80 pence per share plus RPI inflation. 

“As stated above, however, it is much too early to forecast the impact of Covid-19 on the UK and Irish economies and therefore on SSE’s businesses. 

“As a result, the board’s final decision on the quantum and timing of dividend payments in relation to 2020/21 will be taken in light of the extent of the impact of the wider economic situation on SSE’s businesses. 

“This final decision will also have regard to the associated expectations of all of SSE’s key stakeholder groups; and be in line with its commitment to promote the success of the company for the long-term.

“In addition, SSE will be reviewing carefully its operational expenditure plans; and also its capital expenditure plans for projects which have not yet reached financial close.”

SSE added it has agreed with its auditors, EY, it will take longer to prepare and audit SSE’s financial statements for 2019-20. 

“As a result, SSE now aims to publish these in the second half of June, with a planned date to be confirmed as soon as possible.”