City analysts and financial journalists like the utilities
companies. While the headline profits look large, there are big sums
sloshing about in capital expenditure, acquisitions and now the threat
of the windfall tax. However, the water companies’ first reporting round
of the new administration shows that they have a disastrous PR record
which Brown, Prescott and co will gleefully exploit.
Dividends, fat cat salaries and threatened water shortages provide
fruitful ground for the papers. While, to some it is water off a duck’s
back, even relative minnows like Anglian had to face the music last week
as they paid an early dividend to shareholders.
As for the windfall tax, the companies claimed uncertainty on how it
would be directed - but it did not put them off their stride. They
argued that the tax would push them to sack staff. ’The tax could see
the Government’s whole welfare-to-work programme being used to fund jobs
for a lot of ex-utility employees’, said the Sunday Telegraph.
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Cuttings supplied by The
Broadcast Monitoring Company. ’What The Papers Say’ can also be found