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UNITED'S STATE; Company pulls out of South America.

Byline: NEIL HODGSON

UNITED Utilities has pulled out of the volatile South American market to concentrate on the UK and eastern Europe.

The Warrington-based multi-utility is ending its role as technical operator in the Argentinian electricity utility IEBA, which defaulted on repayments to bondholders last month.

Argentina's economy is in meltdown. United Utilities has a 45% equity stake in IEBA but has told majority shareholder Gruppo Camuzzi that it will not inject any further investment into the business, outside existing obligations.

Its withdrawal follows the sale of US Water and Agua de Mexico and is the final step in the group's exit from asset management operations in the Americas.

In a trading update today covering the six months to September 30, United Utilities chief executive John Roberts reported sound progress for the rest of the group.

The regulated electricity and water supply is on course for its pounds 480m savings target to compensate for lower revenues linked to regulator-enforced price cuts.

He said the non-regulated businesses were continuing to deliver growth.

Vertex, which provides call centre and facilities management support for a range of clients from Littlewoods to Westminster city council, has boosted its order book by more than 35% in the first half, Mr Roberts said.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 3, 2002
Words:207
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