Water and energy group United Utilities has warned of job losses at its newlyacquired Gloucestershirebased financial services business Marlborough Stirling.
United, which posted a ten per cent rise in annual profits to #370 million, said it was targeting savings of #6 million a year from Marlborough, which it bought last month.
The group said yesterday it had found ?immediate opportunities? to save money by cutting central overheads and by integrating Marlborough into its business services contracting unit Vertex.
Financial director Simon Batey said it was too early to give details of any cuts.
He said there could be job losses among Marlborough?s 1,600-strong workforce, although the company was looking to grow staff in the longer term.
?The vast majority of those people are in operations and that?s where we?re looking to expand,? he said.
Marlborough is based in Cheltenham where it employs just under 600 people.
As well as Cheltenham, Marlborough has offices in Basingstoke, Brighton, Bristol, Cobham, Douglas, Dublin, Dudley, Edinburgh, Hitchin, Lugano in Switzerland, Schaan in Liechtenstein and Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.
The acquisition was part of United?s efforts to expand the non-regulated side of its business, which now accounts for more than 40 per cent of the group?s external revenues and made more than #100 million of operating profit in a year for the first time.
United said its traditional water, waste water and power business in the North West increased operating profits by 13 per cent to #588 million.
The contract solutions operation boosted operating profits by 17 per cent to #79 million while business process outsourcing lifted profits by five per cent to #26 million.
The group?s telecoms business substantially reduced operating losses and achieved break-even in the second half of the year to March 31.
Regulator Ofwat allowed United to increase water bills by an average annual real price increase of 4.5 per cent over the next five years, while electricity prices would be allowed to rise by 8.2 per cent in 2005/6 followed by constant real price increases thereafter.
United said the regulated business operating profit rise was mainly due to the increase in water bills, while it invested a total of #859 million in water, waste water and power operations.
The group said the efficiency targets set by the regulator were demanding.
But a spokesman said the group did not anticipate job losses in its regulated business above the 200 or so voluntary redundancies announced.
The spokesman said the company employed more than 18,000 people now.
Shares in United Utilities closed last night down 3p at 675.5p.