Verbund earnings tumble

Verbund AG, Austria’s leading electricity provider, suffered a significant decline in earnings in the first nine months of this year.The company, which was founded in 1947, announced today (Thurs) that earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) dropped by 22.1 per cent year on year to 625.6 million Euros in the first three quarters of 2010. It also said turnover edged down by 1.7 per cent to 2.406 billion Euros.Analysts of Erste Bank and Bank Austria (BA) owner UniCredit predicted a decline in earnings and turnover earlier this year.The Republic of Austria holds a 51 per cent stake in Verbund which is listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG).The Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP), which form a coalition government on federal level, have been at odds for months whether to give the go-ahead for a capital increase of Verbund.Firm officials explained today that a one-billion Euro increase in capital was scheduled for November depending on market developments. The SPÖ-ÖVP coalition is expected to contribute half of the planned amount. The electricity company said it wanted to invest the new capital in hydro power technologies.Verbund boss Wolfgang Anzengruber recently identified Turkey as the most important emerging market for his company. “We see a lot of potential there,” he explained.Anzengruber explained energy consumption was rising by six to eight per cent every year in the country where Verbund is active in form of a joint venture with domestic firm Sabanci.Meanwhile, energy prices watchdog E-Control announced gas and electricity has become more expensive across Europe.The Austrian body said residents of Danish capital Copenhagen were currently paying the most for electricity with an average 28.93 Eurocent per kilowatt hour (kWh). E-Control added Vienna (19.47 Eurocents per kWh) was in fourth in a comparative ranking investigating price rates in 15 capital cities in the European Union (EU).