Centrica shares dip as British Gas owner postpones investor event ‘to remain focused on energy crisis’
- Capital markets event shelved to ‘remain focused’ on supporting its customers
- The firm has added thousands of new customers as the ‘supplier of last resort’
The owner of British Gas saw shares fall by almost 3 per cent today as the multinational energy and services company opted to postpone a November event for investors.
Centrica told investors it had decided to postpone its 16 November capital markets event in order to ‘remain focused’ on supporting its customers and those of failed providers.
The ongoing energy crisis has seen a number of smaller UK suppliers collapse, with larger firms like Centrica left to hoover up affected households and corporate clients.
The British Gas owner has added another 350,000 domestic customers and 500 business customers as part of the ‘supplier of last resort’ procedure
British Gas added another 350,000 domestic customers and 500 business customers as part of the ‘supplier of last resort’ procedure introduced by energy regulator Ofgem in 2003.
Centrica Group chief executive Chris O’Shea told investors on Wednesday: ‘In this current unprecedented commodity price environment we remain focused on looking after our residential and business customers, whilst working as part of wider industry efforts in the UK to support the customers of failed suppliers and drive the regulatory reforms which are urgently required to make sure this situation never recurs.
‘Unfortunately, that has meant taking the decision to postpone our planned Capital Markets Event in November.’
Centrica assured investors that its performance since July has been ‘in line with expectations’, and it is ‘well hedged for the coming winter and beyond’.
It added: ‘Centrica’s balance sheet remains strong and the Group’s transformation remains on track.’
Centrica, which will published its 2021 preliminary results on 24 February, has seen its share price fall 2.4 per cent this morning. It remains 29.2 per cent up year-to-date.
POWER SUPPLY MARKET ‘HEADING BACK TO THE 90s’
The boss of Britain’s longest-running independent energy firm has warned that a wave of supplier failures this winter could send the market ‘back to the 1990s’.
Dale Vince, owner of Ecotricity, said he expected three more suppliers to exit the market in coming weeks – and that by the spring Britain could have only between six and 12 energy firms.
He said the exit of scores of smaller suppliers could lead to ‘a Big Six-type situation’ similar to the 1990s, when British Gas owner Centrica, SSE, Npower, Eon, Scottish Power and EDF dominated the market.Vince, who founded Ecotricity in 1995, said: ‘We will see more bankruptcies because the market has been forced into an unnatural position, with suppliers forced to sell energy for less than they can buy it for. We are going back to the future – that’s where the price cap is taking us.’
The ‘Big Six’ led Britain’s energy market after British Gas was privatised in 1986 and the UK’s 12 regional electricity boards in 1990. Start-ups Octopus, Bulb and Ovo have won millions of customers in recent years, along with more than 50 new smaller suppliers.
Vince said some new entrants had treated the market like ‘a casino’, gambling that wholesale energy prices would fall.