In Brief

Centrica to cut 4,000 jobs and sell UK nuclear holdings

Beleaguered British Gas owner lost 1.4 million customers last year

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is cutting 4,000 jobs and sellings its nuclear holdings amid plummeting profits and customer numbers.

The energy supplier says group profits across operations in the UK, Ireland and North America fell by 17% to £1.25bn for the year ended December 2017. 

Chief executive Iain Conn apologised for a “weak” second half, which he said was mainly due to the poor performance of the firm’s commercial division, particularly in North America. But Centrica has also lost almost 9% of its UK domestic customers - around 750,000 - since June, and has been hit by political and regulatory intervention in the UK energy market, the BBC reports.

In October, Theresa May announced plans to introduce a household cap to deal with “rip-off”  energy prices. Just how punitive this will be is a “key question” for Centrica’s investors, Bloomberg says.

Centrica, which lost a total of 1.4 million customer accounts last year, is also looking to sell its stake in Britain’s nuclear power stations by 2020. The company bought a 20% share in Electricite de France SA’s UK nuclear operations in 2009 as an investment.  This stake is to be divested, “subject to ensuring alignment with our partner and being sensitive to Government interests”, Centrica said in a statement.

The energy giant’s new “cost efficiency programme” is expected to involve around 1,000 job losses this year, rising to a total of 4,000 by 2020, the Financial Times reports. Most of the job cuts are expected to be in the UK.

British Gas supplies domestic energy to around 7.8 million UK households.

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