MADRID - Spanish power company Naturgy reported a 17% rise in adjusted net profit for the first half to 557 million euros ($657.65 million) on Wednesday, buoyed by recovering energy demand and prices.
Despite the year-on-year rise, the result was still well short of pre-pandemic levels, coming in 20% lower than in the same period of 2019.
A longtime major producer and trader of natural gas, Naturgy is trying to shift to the low-carbon energy sources that governments across the world hope will reduce their dependence on planet-warming fossil fuels.
It will set out a new strategic plan later on Wednesday, a presentation that was delayed by an offer in January from Australian investor IFM Global Infrastructure Fund to buy a 23% stake for 4.9 billion euros.
Shares rose earlier this month above the 22.37 euros per share IFM is offering, and despite falling slightly after results were released on Wednesday were still quoted at 22.5 euros, 0.1% lower on the day, at 0804 GMT.
This bid is still waiting for approval from the Spanish government.
Naturgy booked a net loss in 2020 after writing down the value of nearly 3 billion euros worth of mainly gas assets.
As economies reawakened in 2021, demand for gas rose 6.5% in Spain and 26% in the group's Latin American markets during the first six months of the year before, Naturgy said.
Ahead of unveiling the full plan, Naturgy said it would include the payment of a 0.30 euros per share dividend in cash on Aug. 4.
IFM shaved a few euro cents off its original 23 euros per share offer after Naturgy paid shareholders a dividend in March. ($1 = 0.8470 euros)
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by James Mackenzie and Louise Heavens) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +39 06 8522 4392; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))