Lord Smith to bow out after 13 years with SSE

Lord Smith has the task for overseeing increased devolution powers for Scotland. Picture: Neil Hanna

Lord Smith has the task for overseeing increased devolution powers for Scotland. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Lord Smith of Kelvin, who has been tasking with overseeing further devolution for Scotland, is to step down as chairman of SSE at the start of 2016.

The energy giant said Smith, who also chairs the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank, will be replaced by City veteran Richard Gillingwater, who has served on its board since 2007.

The change at the helm was announced as Perth-based SSE unveiled a 4.6 per cent rise in first-half profits to £370 million, despite racking up further losses at the part of its business that sells power to consumers.

SSE’s energy supply arm posted a loss of £16.9m for the six months to 30 September, which the firm blamed on “particularly mild weather conditions”.

However, this marked an improvement on the £115.4m operating loss racked up a year earlier, when rising costs forced SSE to increase household energy prices – which it has pledged to keep on hold until at least 2016.

“SSE would like to extend its price freeze beyond 2016, or even cut prices if further costs can be taken out of energy supply, and will work with any political party or stakeholder to find such solutions,” the firm said.

Amid “highly competitive” market conditions, total energy customer numbers across the UK and Ireland fell to 8.9 million, from 9.1 million a year ago.

Chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “In tough market conditions we have been able to deliver solid business results at the same time as being a responsible company that does the right thing by its employees and its customers.”

The interim dividend, to be paid on 20 March, was lifted 2.3 per cent to 26.6p a share.

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