In accordance with the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 and UK Listing Authority’s Listing, Disclosure and Transparency Rules, the following sections describe the matters that are required for inclusion in the Directors’ Report and were approved by the Board. Further details of matters required to be included in the Directors’ Report that are incorporated by reference into this report are set out below.
The biographies of the persons serving as Directors as at the date of this report are set out in Board of Directors. The names of all persons serving as Directors during the financial year are included in Governance framework. The Directors’ interests in shares and in options to receive shares, and any changes that have occurred since 31 March 2010, are set out in the Directors’ Remuneration Report. Directors’ and Officers’ liability insurance cover is arranged and qualifying third party indemnities are in place for each Director.
Code of Ethics
In accordance with US legal requirements, the Board has adopted a Code of Ethics for senior financial professionals. This code is available on our website at www.nationalgrid.com (where any amendments or waivers will also be posted). There were no amendments to, or waivers of, our Code of Ethics during the year.
Principal activities and business review
A full description of the Company’s principal activities, business and principal risks and uncertainties is contained in the Operating and Financial Review, and the Corporate Governance section, which are incorporated by reference into this report.
The Directors are recommending a final dividend of 24.84 pence per ordinary share ($1.7737 per American Depositary Share) to be paid on 18 August 2010 to shareholders on the Register at 4 June 2010. A scrip dividend will also be offered. Further details in respect of dividend payments can be found in shareholder returns.
Political donations and expenditure
National Grid made no political donations in the UK or European Union during the year (including donations as defined for the purposes of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000). National Grid USA and certain of its subsidiaries made political donations in the US of $177,000 (£112,000) during the year to affiliated New York and New Hampshire state political action committees (PACs). National Grid USA’s affiliated New York PACs were funded partly by contributions from National Grid USA and certain of its subsidiaries and partly by employee contributions. National Grid USA’s affiliated New Hampshire PAC was funded wholly by contributions from National Grid USA and certain of its subsidiaries. National Grid USA’s affiliated federal PACs were funded wholly by voluntary employee contributions.
During 2009/10 approximately £11 million (2008/09: £10 million) was invested in support of community initiatives and relationships. The London Benchmarking Group model was used to assess this overall community investment. Direct donations to charitable organisations amounted to £1.1 million (2008/09: £1.4 million). In addition to our charitable donations, financial support was provided for our affordable warmth programme, education programme, university research and our Young Offenders Programme.
Details concerning our rate plans and price controls, which we consider to be our primary contractual arrangements, can be found in the Operating and Financial Review under Regulatory environment and Energy policy, regulatory and other developments.
Post balance sheet events
On 19 May 2010, the Board resolved to offer a fully underwritten rights issue to shareholders to raise up to £3.2 billlion net of expenses through the issue of up to 990,439,017 new ordinary shares of 1117⁄43 pence nominal value each. The rights issue will be offered on the basis of 2 new shares at 335 pence per new share for every 5 existing shares. The new shares (representing approximately 40% of the existing issued share capital excluding treasury shares and 28.6% of the enlarged issued share capital excluding treasury shares immediately following completion of the rights issue) when fully paid will rank pari passu in all respects with the existing shares, except that they will have no right to participate in the final dividend of 24.84 pence per ordinary share recommended to be paid in respect of the year ended 31 March 2010.
Change of control provisions
No compensation would be paid for loss of office of Directors on a change of control of the Company.
As at 31 March 2010, the Company had undrawn borrowing facilities with a number of its banks of £1.9 billion and a further £1.7 billion of drawn bank loans which, on a change of control of the Company following a takeover bid, may alter or terminate. All of the Company’s share plans contain provisions relating to a change of control. Outstanding awards and options would normally vest and become exercisable on a change of control, subject to the satisfaction of any performance conditions at that time.
No other agreements that take effect, alter or terminate upon a change of control of the Company following a takeover bid are considered to be significant in terms of their potential impact on the business as a whole.
Details of future developments are contained in Operational environment in the Operating and Financial Review.
Research and development
Expenditure on research and development during the year was £19 million (2008/09: £10 million). This included for example, development of new materials for use in the electricity transmission business and research into low carbon energy such as carbon capture and storage.
The share capital of the Company consists of ordinary shares of 1117⁄43 pence nominal value each and American Depositary Shares (ADS) only. The ordinary shares and ADSs allow holders to receive dividends and vote at general meetings of the Company. Shares held in treasury are not entitled to vote or receive dividends. There are no restrictions on the transfer or sale of ordinary shares.
Some of the Company’s employee share plans, details of which are contained in the Directors’ Remuneration Report, include restrictions on transfer of shares while the shares are subject to the plan.
Where, under an employee share plan operated by the Company, participants are the beneficial owners of the shares but not the registered owner, the voting rights may be exercised by the registered owner at the direction of the participant.
At the Company’s 2009 Annual General Meeting (AGM) shareholder authority was given to purchase up to 10% of the Company’s ordinary shares. The Directors intend to seek shareholder approval to renew this authority at this year’s AGM. No shares were repurchased during the year. Of the shares repurchased in prior years and held in treasury, 12,044,072 have been transferred to employees under the employee share plans and as at the date of this report, 141,092,553 were held in treasury.
Following shareholder approval at the 2009 AGM, a Scrip Dividend Scheme was offered to ordinary shareholders enabling new shares to be acquired without dealing costs or stamp duty reserve tax being payable. The scrip dividend is also available to ADS holders.
Shareholders also approved the authority for the Directors to allot relevant securities up to approximately 1⁄3 of the issued share capital and a further 1⁄3 in connection with an offer by way of a rights issue. The Directors intend to seek shareholder approval to renew this authority at this year’s AGM, details of which are contained in the Notice of AGM.
The Company employs over 28,000 people. Communication is a key theme both at a corporate and business level. Multiple communication channels are used throughout National Grid, including the use of various business specific intranets, which the Company continues to develop to ensure the timely cascade of information to employees.
Feedback has been provided by employees in confidence via an annual Company wide employee survey. Over 97% of employees took part in the latest survey, an increase from the previous year. Action plans will be developed by each of the businesses to address their key priorities for improvement.
National Grid’s inclusion and diversity vision is to develop and operate its business in a way that results in a more inclusive and diverse culture. This supports the attraction and retention of the best people, improves effectiveness, delivers superior performance and enhances the success of the Company. Employees are provided with the opportunity to develop to their full potential regardless of race, gender, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and background. Further information on employees is available in our Corporate Responsibility Report which is available on our website www.nationalgrid.com. Employee share schemes are available to encourage alignment of employee and shareholder interests.
Policy and practice on payment of creditors
It is National Grid’s policy to include in contracts, or other agreements, terms of payment with suppliers. Once agreed, National Grid aims to abide by these payment terms. The average creditor payment period at 31 March 2010 for National Grid’s principal operations in the UK was 14 days (13 days at 31 March 2009).
Having made the requisite enquiries, so far as the Directors in office at the date of the signing of this report are aware, there is no relevant audit information of which the auditors are unaware and each Director has taken all reasonable steps to make themselves aware of any relevant audit information and to establish that the auditors are aware of that information.
Articles of Association
The Articles of Association set out the internal regulation of the Company and cover such matters as the rights of shareholders, the appointment or removal of Directors and the conduct of the Board and general meetings. Copies are available upon request and are displayed on the National Grid website at www.nationalgrid.com. In accordance with the Articles of Association, Directors can be appointed or removed by the Board or shareholders in general meeting. Amendments to the Articles of Association have to be approved by at least 75% of those voting in person or by proxy at a general meeting of the Company. Subject to company law and the Articles of Association, the Directors may exercise all the powers of the Company, and may delegate authorities to Committees and day-to-day management and decision making to individual Executive Directors. Details of the main Board Committees can be found in the Board and its Committees.
Material interests in shares
As at the date of this report, National Grid had been notified of the following holdings in voting rights of 3% or more in the issued share capital of the Company:
|% of voting rights|
|Black Rock Inc||4.99|
|Legal and General Group plc||4.35|
|Crescent Holding GmbH||4.34|
|Capital Group Companies, Inc||3.75|
No further notifications have been received.
Annual General Meeting
National Grid’s 2010 AGM will be held on Monday 26 July 2010 at The International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Details are set out in the Notice of AGM.
On behalf of the Board
Company Secretary & General Counsel
19 May 2010
National Grid plc, 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5EH
Registered in England and Wales No. 4031152