German utility giant RWE (Other OTC: RWNFF.PK – news) said its British business, RWE npower, was not for sale, as the group’s UK energy arm reported a 34pc jump in profits to £313m for 2011.
Npower, its retail arm, has come under fire having increased average tariffs for gas by 15.7pc and electricity by 7.2pc last October – but has since lowered gas bills by 5pc. The company declined to reveal the breakdown of profits between its UK divisions.
But Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, said that the retail division had broadly broken even in 2011, an improvement on a loss in 2010. He said he did not understand why the public did not recognise that UK energy prices were comparatively low.
“This market still has, in Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD – news) , by far the lowest prices and I don’t know why we don’t recognise that as a fact,” he said. “We are exposed to the same global commodity dynamics and yet we have the lowest residential prices. You have a similar debate in other countries, but there the understanding is much more, ‘We have to transform the energy system, we want to have full compliance with climate change targets’. In other countries people are saying, ‘For a greener world I am willing to accept that prices are going higher.'”
He added that the company was doing everything it could to help customers.
RWE npower said the bulk of the UK profit growth was driven by “operational efficiencies and power station earnings”. It added that said it was too soon to assess the impact on 2012 earnings of the fire last week at its biomass plant in Tilbury.