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Severn Trent Profit Declined 5.8% in Fiscal First Half

Severn Trent Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest publicly traded water company, said fiscal first-half earnings fell 5.8 percent.

Underlying pretax profit dropped to 141.3 million pounds ($228.4 million) in the six months through September from 150 million pounds a year earlier, the company said today in a statement, without giving a reason. Sales rose 0.5 percent to 922 million pounds.

The utility on Nov. 18 named Liv Garfield of BT Group Plc as its new chief executive officer. One of the final tasks of incumbent Tony Wray will be to submit the company’s business plan for 2015 to 2020, which will be scrutinized by the regulator Ofwat as it undertakes a review of water prices.

Severn Trent’s plan will “strike the right balance between affordability, investment to maintain and improve our service and environmental standards, and appropriate returns for shareholders,” Wray said in today’s statement. Customer-bill increases will be below inflation this year, the company said.

Severn Trent, carrying out a 150 million-pound capital investment program, said it has spent 91 million pounds to date cleaning sewers, improving treatment works and reducing leakage.

The Coventry, England-based utility increased its interim dividend 6 percent to 32.16 pence a share and said it expects to meet financial targets for the year.

United Utilities Group Plc, the largest publicly traded water company in the U.K., is scheduled to report first-half earnings tomorrow.

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