About our shareholders & investors
Retain a robust and sustainable financial profile to provide enduring shareholder value.
United Utilities Group PLC is a public limited company with its shares listed on the London Stock Exchange. We currently have around 100,000 shareholders, collectively holding over 680 million shares.
Around three quarters of these shares are held by institutional investors – such as pension funds - with private investors holding the balance. Approximately half of our institutional investors are UK based.
Our financial performance is reported in our annual report.
Our board has a responsibility for engaging with shareholders, and both executive and non-executive directors are available to meet with major shareholders. The board receives regular updates and feedback on our investor relations activities from sector analysts.
Around 59 per cent of our retail shareholders have registered addresses in the North West of England. We have historically always held our AGM in Manchester, which enables our more local shareholders to attend the meeting. These shareholders are, of course, also our customers.
We are always keen to hear the views of our shareholders and investors and have an active investor relations programme.
Our CEO and CFO meet with around 100 major shareholders each year. They also make presentations to groups of institutional investors, both on an ad hoc basis, and to support half and full year results announcements.
Our investor relations team, meanwhile, continued with its busy all year round programme of investor meetings, spanning the UK, Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific region.
In total last year, we met or offered to meet with 39 per cent by value of the overall shareholder base, which represents 72 per cent of the targetable institutional shareholder base (when adjusting for shareholders who do not typically meet with companies, such as indexed funds).
In these meetings, frequent areas of common interest included operational and environmental performance; customer service; capital investment; efficiency initiatives and regulatory outperformance.
Investors are always keen to observe financial stability, and are interested in the level of gearing; cost of finance; debt portfolio and maturity profile; future financing requirements and dividends. The outcome of the price review, covering the 2015-20 period, was also a key area of interest for them. Looking ahead, investors will be keen to understand how the company is performing relative to the price review allowances and targets.
Relations with other providers of capital
Running a water and wastewater business requires a long-term outlook. Our regulatory cycle is based on five-year periods, and we raise associated funding to improve our network for each period. We are, as a group, heavily reliant on successfully acquiring long-term funding from banks and debt capital markets to fund these network improvements.
This requires a long-term commitment and involvement from our credit investors who lend us the funds, with the company paying them a return for doing so. The European Investment Bank (EIB), which is the financing arm of the European Union, is our single biggest lender, currently providing circa £1.9 billion of term funding used to support our capital investment programme.
Given the importance of debt funding to our group, we have an active credit investor programme coordinated by our group treasury team, who provide a first point of contact for credit investors' queries.
We aim to maintain, as a minimum, our existing credit ratings of A3 with Moody’s and BBB+ with Standard & Poor’s for UUW, which enables us to borrow money at more favourable rates. More information on credit ratings and the methodologies used is available from the relevant agency's website.
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