* H1 revenue 823 mln stg vs 793 mln yr ago
* H1 opg profit down 8 pct
* Criticises regulator's licence proposals
* Shares up 1.7 pct
LONDON, Nov 28 United Utilities said
price rises had enabled it to report higher revenues on
Wednesday, keeping Britain's largest listed water utility on
track to meet its targets.
Revenue increased 3.8 percent to 823 million pounds ($1.3
billion) in the six months to end-September, thanks to a 5.8
percent price increase permitted by British water regulator
Ofwat recently set out proposals to give it greater scope to
set different price limits, a move that has proved unpopular
with many of the water firms.
"We are unable to accept the flexibility that they've
proposed in the licence modifications, because of the
uncertainty that that generates and also the potential for that
uncertainty feeding into customer bills," chief executive Steve
Mogford said on a conference call to reporters on Wednesday.
The company said it was on track to deliver targets that
include 300 million pounds of financing outperformance, despite
a tough economic environment.
Brits are struggling with stubbornly high inflation,
stagnant wages and rising long-term joblessness, which have
impacted customers' ability to pay.
"The North West faces a particularly tough economic
environment, with unemployment having increased at a faster rate
than any other UK region in 2011/12, resulting in an adverse
impact on ability to pay this year," the company said.
The company reported underlying operating profit down 8
million pounds to 316 million, broadly in line with estimates.
It attributed the drop to increased infrastructure expenditure
following last year's transfer of responsibility for private
sewers to wastewater companies.
Shares in the company rose 1.7 percent to 681 pence at 1037
GMT, outperforming the FTSE100, down 0.26 percent.