October 29, 2010 / 9:45 AM / in 7 years

UPDATE 1-Scottish & Southern to hike UK gas prices on Dec 1

* Typical annual bill to rise by 55.68 pounds to 650 pounds * SSE says sorry the increase will take place during winter

* To affect 3.6 million customers

* Says responding to surge in wholesale prices, losing money

* Analysts expect FY group pretax profit of 1.25 bln stg (Adds details, background)

LONDON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - British utility Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE.L) will hike household gas prices by 9.4 percent this winter, responding to sharp rises in wholesale gas prices.

The company said the increase on Dec. 1 would push up the typical annual gas bill by 55.68 pounds to 650 pounds ($1,035) and affect about 3.6 million customers, piling more pressure on consumers grappling with big government spending cuts.

“The last few months have been marked by rising wholesale gas prices and, having absorbed losses in our gas supply business for some time, we can not delay an increase in retail prices any longer,” Alistair Phillips-Davies, energy supply director at SEE, said in a statement on Friday.

Phillips-Davies said he was sorry the price increase would take place during winter but noted that wholesale gas prices had increased over 25 percent since SSE last implemented price changes in March 2010.

SSE’s gas supply business, Southern Electric Gas, made a loss of 58.7 million pounds in the year to the end of March. The group as a whole, however, is expected to make a pretax profit of 1.25 billion pounds in the current business year, according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 14 analysts.

The company, which also generates electricity from power stations and windfarms and operates gas pipelines and storage facilities, said the price rise does not apply to customers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Shares in SSE were up 1 percent at 1,126 pence by 0939 GMT, outperforming a 0.4 percent weaker FTSE 100 .FTSE.

($1=.6281 POUND)

Reporting by Paul Hoskins; editing by Lorraine Turner

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