Phoenix Natural Gas
Phoenix Natural Gas is the main company distributing natural gas in Northern Ireland. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Phoenix Distribution Holdings (a company registered in England) which in turn, is wholly owned by an investment holding company, Lionrai Investments No.1. Lionrai is jointly owned by the Utilities Trust of Australia and the Group Pension Fund of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The investors in Phoenix Natural Gas received dividends in 2017 of £22.8m. This was after a year with no dividends in 2016 but resumed a pattern of earlier years when £20m was paid in 2015.
There are now six companies competing to supply natural gas in NI. In 2017, there were 209,027 customers on the network.
Trading results for Phoenix Natural Gas continue to improve yearly. Allowable operating revenue is determined by the Utility Regulator and actual revenue is adjustable for any over or under-recoveries.
Turnover in 2017 was 7% up. Operating profits were 35% of turnover, compared to 29% in 2016. Before allowance is made for the revaluation of fixed assets, in recent years pre-tax losses were declared.
The losses were partly a result of the major recapitalisation of the business using large amounts of bank and bond borrowing, through the parent companies.
Net interest costs on borrowed funds were nearly £19m in 2017. When calculating comprehensive income, the company takes account of gains through an annual revaluation of fixed assets which added £38m to pre-tax profits in 2017.
At the end of December 2017, Phoenix had interest-bearing loans of £280m. In addition the company had £165m of term and revolving bank facilities.