Nov 23, 2017

North America emerges as new front in Centrica’s battle

Having watched the value of their holdings in the UK's biggest energy supplier fall 30 per cent this year - as the company battled a tough home market - they now have a fresh problem: North America. In recent months, Centrica appears to have been blindsided by the threat posed by other suppliers and power generators in North America. Centrica's North American business division, which supplies energy to companies, including many industrial groups, typically attracts less attention than its dominant UK household supply operation but it is the second-largest contributor to group profits. The problems have stemmed from warmer weather in North America this year, which has contributed to a period of lower demand and plentiful supply, hitting power prices. The latest issues in North America come at a difficult time for Mr Conn, who was previously head of BP's downstream business, and who last year received a near 40 per cent rise in his remuneration package to nearly £4.2m. Having taken a decision shortly after he took the Centrica job to focus on customer-facing businesses such as energy supply, and downsize oil and gas production operations, the company has found itself at the centre of a political and regulatory storm in the UK around "Rip off" electricity and gas bills.

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