Verbund chairman rules out price reduction

Verbund AG boss Wolfgang Anzengruber has said he does not expect energy prices to decline in the foreseeable future.The businessman said today (Mon): “I don’t see chances for any changes at the moment. Energy trading prices were low recently, but are currently edging up again.”Verbund angered consumer representatives in May by raising the price for one kilowatt hour of electricity from 6.5 cent to 7.3 cent. Herbert Tumpel, president of the Austrian Labour Chamber (AK), attacked the Vienna-based company for “putting new pressure on its customers” in economically difficult times.Anzengruber, who took over as head of Austria’s biggest energy provider last year, also claimed today that the expansion in the eco-power sector increases prices for private customers.These announcements come on the same day of news that Austrian households had to spend an overall 5.8 per cent more on gas, electricity and car fuel in November compared to the same month of 2009.Anzengruber told the Kurier newspaper his company was in a strong position on the market due to its pumped storage hydro power station. “These plants are needed to stabilise energy deliveries in periods green energy facilities are producing less.”The former chairman of cranes producer Palfinger said a key question in the near future will be to determine whether continuing to operate small power plants is profitable.Asked which market has the most potential in his opinion, Anzengruber explained he saw a lot of “dynamic growth” in Turkey and Austria.Anzengruber explained it is his target to raise the number of overall private Verbund customers from the current 230,000 to 400,000. The CEO did however not disclose when he hoped to achieve this figure.Verbund, which runs 126 power plants, produced almost 24,000 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2009.The company, which was founded in 1947, suffered a 22.1 per cent year on year decline in earnings in the first nine months of 2010 to 625.6 million Euros. Its turnover edged down by 1.7 per cent to 2.406 billion Euros.The Republic of Austria holds a 51 per cent stake in the firm which is listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange’s (WBAG) Prime Market. The price of one Verbund share is currently 27.77 Euros.