When one door shuts…the NS&I index-linked certificates may be no more, but the sparks at National Grid have stumbled upon an opportunity to fill the gap. The offer of a 1.25% return over 10 years, indexed to the RPI, is aimed squarely at retail investors. It looks pretty attractive in today’s market, where the equivalent UK government stock merely maintains the purchasing power of your money, with a real return of zero.

Unlike those of National Savings, the Grid’s liabilities are not guaranteed by the taxpayer, and the company is committed to a vast programme of capital spending to link all those faraway wind farms to the places where people live. The BBB rating for the new bond reflects the risk that it will all go terribly wrong, but it would require mismanagement on an epic scale for the monopoly owner of the country’s electricity and gas distribution network to go bust. Had the bonds been issued by an operating subsidiary, they would have been rated A- , but the linesmen took the view that name recognition was more important than a higher rating.

From the Grid’s point of view, this is cheap money, especially compared to the 4.1875% it is paying on its existing 20-year linkers  which trade (rarely) at around £180%. For investors, a 10-year protection from inflation and a small running yield looks worth tucking away in an ISA or SIPP, where there is no tax to pay on the income or nominal gain. I may even buy some myself, to add to my holding of the shares.

If you’ve no money, you could always try your hand at redesigning the triffids that the Grid marches across the British countryside. You’d better be quick, since these are the six finalists for a new pylon design. Makes you nostalgic for the old ones, almost.

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