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Centrica Plc history, profile and corporate video

Centrica Plc is an integrated energy company operating in the UK and North America. The company operates through four business segments: British Gas, Centrica Energy, Centrica Storage and Direct Energy. The British Gas segment provides residential services, including gas and electricity supply, installation, repair and maintenance of domestic central heating, plumbing and drains, maintenance/breakdown service of gas and kitchen appliances; and also provides energy related services to business customers in the United Kingdom. The Centrica Energy segment operations include production, processing, trading and optimization of gas and oil, and the development of new fields to grow reserves. This segment also includes generation, trading and optimization of power from thermal, nuclear and wind sources. The Centrica Storage segment Centrica Storage operates the Rough offshore gas storage facilities. The Direct Energy segment includes the gas and electricity supply to the residential and business customers in North America. This segment’s services including installation and maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, water heaters and the provision of breakdown services. Centrica was founded on February 17, 1997 and is headquartered in Windsor, the United Kingdom.

Centrica History

Origins

British Gas plc demerged on 17 February 1997 to form three separate companies: Centrica plc, BG plc and Transco plc. Centrica took over gas sales and gas trading, services and retail businesses, together with the gas production operations in the North and South Morecambe gas fields (Rampside Gas Terminal).

BG plc was renamed BG Group plc in December 1999. BG Group plc uses the British Gas name overseas but it is a separate company from Centrica and has no involvement with the British Gas retail brand in the UK.

In 1998, Centrica’s supplier monopoly for gas came to an end. Centrica maintained the British Gas retail brand but is only allowed to use this brand name in the UK. The electricity market also opened up to competition and, through the British Gas brand, the company started supplying its first domestic electricity customers.

1998 to 2010

In late 1998, under CEO Sir Roy Gardner and Finance Director Mark Clare, Centrica attempted to diversify – firstly by developing the Goldfish credit card, then in 1999 by acquiring the AA for £1.1 billion. In 2000 Centrica further diversified with the opportunistic purchase of OneTel in the UK, a residential telecoms operator. Soon afterwards Centrica acquired the Dyno franchise group (best known for its Dyno-Rod drains unblocking service). Centrica also moved into the North American energy-supply market through the acquisition of the Canada-based company Direct Energy in 2000 for £406 million. Direct Energy’s operations were subsequently considerably expanded through a number of further acquisitions, including of Enbridge Services for £437 million in January 2002.

This strategy of diversification changed in mid-2003, possibly under pressure from major city shareholders to deliver better returns and/or possibly anticipating pressure on the core UK energy supply business. The change of strategy started with the sale of the Goldfish business to Lloyds TSB Bank (who subsequently sold it to Morgan Stanley Bank International Limited). Then in 2004 Centrica sold the AA to two private equity firms; Luxembourgish CVC and British Permira for £1.75 billion. Then in 2005 Centrica sold their OneTel business to Carphone Warehouse.

Since 2005 Centrica has declared a strategy of consolidating within the energy sector, upstream and downstream, including expanding operations overseas. New chairman Roger Carr replaced retiring chairman Sir Michael Perry in 2005, whilst new CEO Sam Laidlaw picked up the reins from retiring CEO Sir Roy Gardner in 2006. Sam Laidlaw brought significant experience of ‘upstream’ operations, securing supplies of energy which can then be sold on through Centrica’s consumer business.

In January 2006, it was rumoured that the Russian state-owned utility company Gazprom was seeking a takeover of Centrica. This created controversy in the media, while the Department for Trade and Industry stated any deal would be subject to “intense scrutiny”. Tony Blair announced in April that he would not block any potential deal.

In September 2008 the Company acquired the Caythorpe gas-producing field near Bridlington to use for storage purposes. It also agreed to buy 20% of British Energy fromEDF, financing this with a £2.2 billion, 3 for 8 rights issue. The rights issue offered shares at 160 pence per share and closed on 12 December 2008.

In August 2009, Centrica took over Venture Production, a North Sea gas producer.

2010 to present

On 17 November 2010, Centrica acquired the assets of heat pump installation company Cool Planet Technologies Ltd. for £0.5 million in cash. This will give a boost to company’s strategy of developing a broad range of low carbon technologies and advice.

In February 2011 Centrica signed a £2 billion three-year contract with Qatargas for the purchase of 2.4 million tonnes a year of liquefied natural gas. In March 2011 Centrica agreed the sale of the electricity and gas supply business of its Netherlands-based subsidiary Oxxio to Eneco BV for €72 million (£63 million) in cash. The sale completed Centrica’s exit from the supply of electricity and gas in Continental Europe, following the earlier disposal of its supply businesses in Belgium and Spain.

In November 2011, Centrica agreed to buy $1.6 billion stakes of 8 fields on the Norwegian continental shelf from Statoil ASA. In a second deal, Centrica agreed to buy 5 billion cubic meters a year gas from the same company from 2015 to 2025 as equal to 5 percent of UK gas consumption.

Centrica’s Germany-based trading division Centria Energie GmbH was closed in April 2012.

In July 2013, it was announced that Centrica would acquire the energy marketing unit of Hess Corporation for $1.03 billion.

In March 2014, Centrica acquired the retail arm and other assets belonging to Ireland’s state-owned Bord Gáis for a fee of around €1.1 billion.”

*Information from Forbes.com and Wikipedia.org

**Video published on YouTube by “Centrica plc