United Utilities yesterday signalled plans to speed up the sale of telecommunications arm, Your Communications.
The business, which provides fixed phone line services for businesses in the Midlands and North West, recorded a loss of £11.8 million in the six months to September 30, after turnover fell 11.5 per cent.
United said it will accelerate disposal plans amid heavy competition and consolidation in the phone and broadband market.
Your Communications has headquarters in Manchester, although it does have a small office of around ten staff at Birmingham Business Park.
Warrington-based United also announced a pretax profit of £244 million, up 20 per cent across the group.
The results included a oneoff hit of £98.6 million as it wrote down the value of Your Communications to around £97.4 million.
United chief executive John Roberts said: "We have recognised for some time that the consolidation of the telecoms sector has been overdue, and we are now seeing evidence of deals being done."
Your Communications contributed about 13 per cent of the turnover of United.
In its regulated water and electricity businesses United's operating profit increased 13 per cent to £325 million on turnover up nine per cent to £746 million.
This was helped by a 8.4 per cent price hike in water bills and 11.5 per cent in electricity charges, allowed by the regulator as part of a five-year review.
UUCS, United's infrastructure management business saw half- year turnover increase 35 per cent to £309 million while operating profit rose eight per cent to £41 million.
Meanwhile, United's business processing arm, Vertex reported operating profits of £11 million on a £207 million turnover - compared with the £13 million it made on £201 million over the same period in 2004.
United also announced it had appointed Philip Green as its new chief executive.
Mr Green, aged 52, most recently led shipping company P&O Nedlloyd through its listing on the stock exchange and its subsequent sale to AP Moller-Maersk in May this year.
United announced an interim dividend of 14.29 pence per share, an increase of 3.4 per cent.