Jul 29, 2022

It’s still politics that rules our privatised companies

At Centrica, which on Thursday reinstated its shareholder payout despite a stink over high energy bills for consumers. Then it's politics that determines the rules in which Centrica must operate. Centrica's defence takes in its 500,000 small shareholders; the fall in profits in the British Gas energy division; the £600mn in windfall taxes it will pay; the fact that the total dividend bill amounts to only £59mn. Shell on the same day announced it would launch a quarterly buyback worth more than 80 times that amount. BT paid out roughly £750mn in dividends last year, while Royal Mail did a £400mn one-off special dividend and buyback. Shareholders have not exactly reaped large rewards in recent years.

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