The dry spell from July through September caused power shortages throughout Europe. Austria experienced a considerable fall in production of hydroelectric power, which depends heavily on rainfall. At the same time the international electricity trading markets were characterized by enormous price fluctuations and massive price increases. The short-term price level was more than 20 % above last year’s level, and the forward prices, the indicators for the future price trend, rose considerably. This development is attributable to the shrinking reserve capacities in Europe, increased promotion of renewable energy sources, and the measures taken to reduce the CO2 emission in pursuit of the Kyoto goal. Notwithstanding this exceptional environment VERBUND is presenting a positive result again for the quarter 1-3/2003.
Success due to high prices and consistent debt repayment
The operating result increased 5.9 % to 234.2 million €. The low water regime - 14 % below the long-term average level -, caused by extreme dryness, was a great strain. Although the output of the storage and thermal power plants was stepped up considerably, the fall in production of the run-of-river stations could not be fully compensated. The result increased due to tight cost management and by making the most of the increase in prices. Although the VERBUND sales have not yet fully profited from this higher price level for lack of free quantities due to declining production, there is a considerable potential for growth in 2004. As to the sales, nearly all customer segments recorded increases. Specifically on the domestic wholesale market two-digit rates of increase were recorded again.
The group result also increased by a sizable 41.5 % to 155.8 million € as a result of the continued debt repayment policy - in 2003 a total of 560 million € in debts without refinancing requirement were paid off -, continuously low interest levels, and gains on exchange.
The strategic partnerships section was focusing on compliance with the requirements resulting from the Austrian power solution in the last quarter. Especially the sale of the distributor subsidiary VERBUND-Austrian Power Vertriebs GmbH (APC), which suspends the effect of the implementation of the power solution, was expedited vigorously. VERBUND is positive that the requirements of the European Commission will be met. Increased synergies provide additional potential for improvement for VERBUND.