June 11, 2020 / 8:47 AM / 23 days ago

Italgas only marginally impacted by COVID-19 due to digital drive

MILAN, June 11 (Reuters) - Italy’s biggest gas distributor Italgas said it had been only marginally impacted by the coronavirus pandemic thanks to the digitisation of its business.

Like other utilities Italgas has increased spending on digital networks to run its grids more efficiently and offer clients services such as remote gas meter reading and gas leakage detection.

Italy was one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 emergency and there was some concern about the risks for key energy facilities should the crisis persist.

In a statement Italgas said it expected its core earnings this year to be in a range of 960-980 million euros ($1.09-1.11 billion) compared to 907.5 million euros last year while sales would be more than 1.3 billion euros from 1.258 billion euros.

Last year Italgas completed the acquisition of regional utility Toscana Energia which in 2018 had sales of 148 million euros and core earnings of 104 million euros.

“The company has quickly reacted to the crisis and has as well rapidly restarted its operations. The digitisation has played a key role in doing that,” said Italian broker Fidentiis, adding guidance was in line with expectations.

At 0823 GMT, Italgas shares were up 0.4% while the European utility index was down 1.8%.

Italgas, which manages 66,000 km of regulated domestic gas pipelines, is mainly focused on Italy but was recently included in the shortlist to buy Greece’s state-controlled gas distribution network DEPA Infrastructure.

$1 = 0.8792 euros Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans

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