October 25, 2011 - Electricity and gas networks company National Grid yesterday said it had agreed the sale of a meter reading and installation business to Macquarie Bank in the UK in a £274.3 million deal.

The company said the cash proceeds from the sale of Utility Metering Services, which trades as Onstream, will be used to fund its investment programme.

A spokesman for National Grid said : “The sale of Onstream provides a clean exit from the business at an appropriate juncture in its development and delivers good value for investors”.

Onstream, which was established in 2001, covers some 2.6 million domestic electricity meters and 1.6 million gas meters. It provides meter-reading services for all the major energy suppliers in the UK and employs 160 people. As well as traditional energy meters the West Midland-based business also has a growing smart meter division with more than 27,000 in homes and businesses installed to date.

Onstream represents about 9 per cent of National Grid’s total UK metering activities by operating profit and the company said the sale, which is unconditional, is expected to complete shortly.

National Grid is planning to invest about £3.6 billion in its businesses in the current financial year, the bulk of which will be in the UK where it owns and maintains the high-voltage electricity transmission system in England and Wales. The company also has significant energy infrastructure interests in the US. Shares in National Grid closed down 6.5p at 629.5p.