Ex-Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw cashes in on gas deal

Centrica’s former boss set to walk away with millions after selling one of Britain’s largest independent gas producers

Bumper payday: Sam Laidlaw

Centrica’s former boss is set to walk away with millions after selling one of Britain’s largest independent gas producers.

Neptune was yesterday sold to Italian oil giant Eni for £3.9billion, meaning a bumper payday for Sam Laidlaw and its shareholders.

Laidlaw ran British Gas owner Centrica between 2006 and 2014 and is the executive chairman of Neptune, which he founded a year after leaving the energy firm.

The 67-year-old and the rest of the Neptune management team own just under 1 per cent of the company, meaning they will walk away with up to £39m.

Laidlaw was lambasted as ‘Sammy Two Pools’ in the tabloids after he asked for permission to add an extra swimming pool to his Cotswold mansion in October 2013. Old Etonian Laidlaw’s father was Sir Christophor Laidlaw, deputy chairman of British Petroleum.

The takeover – which is the largest cash deal in Europe’s oil and gas industry for almost a decade – is also good news for Neptune’s largest shareholders. Private equity firms Carlyle and CVC Partners own 30.6 per cent and 20.4 per cent respectively and so will get £1.2billion and £800m.

The Chinese Communist Party is also set to receive a bonanza payout through a Chinese investment fund it owns.

State-owned China Investment Corporation, which owns 49 per cent of the firm, will receive £1.9billion.

Neptune provides about 12 per cent of the UK’s gas and produces from fields in eight countries, including the UK, Norway, Germany, Algeria, the Netherlands and Indonesia.

In an announcement yesterday, Neptune said Eni will buy the firm man businesses, which will continue to be owned by existing investors, for £2billion.

Var Energi, Eni’s Norwegian listed subsidiary, will buy Neptune’s operations in Norway for £1.8billion.

Laidlaw said yesterday: ‘I am incredibly proud of Neptune’s achievements over the past five years – and the hard work and dedication of so many people across our organisation, who, together with our shareholders, have contributed to the growth and success of the business.’

He said the transaction signified ‘a new and exciting phase for Neptune’. He said there were ‘significant growth opportunities which will benefit from Eni’s and Var Energi’s larger scale and available resources’.

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