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Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.

Centrica plc is an international top 30 FTSE100 company which split from British Gas following a demerger in February 1997.

It is now owned by parent company BG Group (British Gas renamed) which also owned Lattice Group, now merged with National Grid, the UK's main transmission provider.


Centrica dominates 45 per cent of the total gas market in the UK (16 million customers) and in 2009 bought out the North Sea gas producer Venture.

Centrica also owns a 20 per cent share worth around £3.1 billion in British Energy, the UK nuclear energy generator now owned by EDF Energy. [1] Despite its commitment to rapid growth in these sectors Centrica has also promoted itself as a renewable energy provider through its creation of British Gas New Energy in 2007, and is a large supplier of wind power. The company worked for a while with a clean coal project developer, Progressive Energy to develop Carbon Capture and Storage for coal-fired power stations in the UK [2] but in May 2009 sold its 50 per cent stake in the Eston Grange IGCC project on Teeside back to them, saying the technology was too 'uncertain'. [3]

Company history

  • 1986 In August 1986 privatisation of British Gas Corporation by the UK Government. All assets transferred to British Gas plc, shares first traded in December.
  • 1997 In February 1997 the shareholders of British Gas plc approved the demerger of Centrica plc. British Gas plc was renamed BG plc.
  • 1999 In December 1999 BG plc completed a financial restructuring which resulted in the creation of a new parent company, BG Group plc.
  • 2000 In October 2000 BG Group plc completed the demerger of Lattice Group plc creating two separate companies.
  • 2002 In October 2002 Lattice Group plc merged with National Grid to form National Grid Transco.
  • 2005 In July 2005 National Grid Transco plc was renamed National Grid plc to provide a unifying identity across its operations.[4]

Fracking interests and collaboration with govt officials to manage stakeholders

FrackWell.png This article is part of the Spinwatch Fracking Portal and project

In 2013 Centrica spent £100m buying a 25 per cent share of fracking firm Cuadrilla's Lancashire fracking operation and licence. In January 2014 emails released under Freedom of Information laws revealed extensive cooperation between Centrica and the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).

An email, from Centrica to Decc officials, 'warned that Lancashire County Council was far from convinced about the level of regulation'.

Centrica said: 'The most common theme [of a county council meeting] was that separate onshore regulation is needed of shale, they clearly don't feel totally comfortable with the current situation/or understand how it will work.'

The Guardian reported that:

Centrica also met Decc to discuss "managing national and local stakeholders", and shared a list of stakeholders, as did IGas, the company facing fracking protests in Salford. In another email, Centrica told Decc it was planning to line up academics to make its case: "Our polling shows academics are the most trusted sources of information to the public, so we are looking at ways to work with the academic community to present the scientific facts around shale." Decc told Centrica the discussions between the two were "really useful".
Centrica emailed Decc a figure of 74,000 potential jobs linked to shale gas development, a number later repeated by Cameron and ministers despite Decc's own study estimating a peak of 16,000 to 32,000 jobs. [5]

'Independent' fracking taskforce funder

In October 2014 Centrica was revealed as one of several industry funders of a new 'independent' Task Force on Shale Gas (UK), headed by former Environment Agency chair (Lord) Chris Smith.

Lobbying firms retained

Both Centrica and its fracking investment partner Cuadrilla were clients of boutique agency Westbourne Communications, which has close ties to the Tories.

Nuclear activites

Centrica buys stake in nuclear firm British Energy

Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.

In 2008 British Energy's biggest investor, Invesco Perpetual called for the nuclear power generator to merge with British Gas owner Centrica.[6] The proposal was confirmed in a Times article which also reported how the British 'Government wants the use the sale of British Energy ... as an opportunity to kickstart the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations'.[7]

In May 2009 Centrica announced it was buying a 20 per cent stake from EDF in British Energy, the UK's largest electricity generator with eight nuclear power stations. Neil Woodford, head of investment at Invesco told the BBC the 'move was a major step forward for Centrica'.

"The partnership with EDF also promises to be a driving force in revitalising the UK nuclear industry - a vital project if the UK is to meet its long-term climate change obligations and energy security needs," Mr Woodford said.

The deal was completed in November 2009, giving Centrica 'access to 20% of the uncontracted power from the existing nuclear fleet, and an additional 18 terawatt hours (TWh) of power from EDF over five years from 2011. Centrica does not operate any of the nuclear facilities – this remains the responsibility of EDF Energy who are world leaders in nuclear generation. The addition of nuclear into our power generation mix means our business model is now better balanced with a higher proportion of power being sourced from our own lower carbon sources'.[8]

In July 2011 British Energy was renamed EDF Energy Nuclear Generation. [8]

New nuclear build volte face due to burgeoning costs and longer timetable

Centrica was until February 2013 part of a consortium with EDF Energy seeking to build new nuclear plants in the UK, including two new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. In May 2012 it had warned it could not make a final decision at the end of 2012 unless an appropriate government subsidy mechanism was put in place. The Financial Times reported that the company 'wants assurances from ministers that there is no clash between EU state aid rules and proposed transitional arrangements under which the government guarantees prices for low carbon electricity'.

Centrica is concerned that the temporary arrangements, involving the government issuing so-called letters of comfort to developers of low carbon energy projects, have undergone inadequate scrutiny and are not enshrined in legislation.
The arrangements are due to be replaced by a different regime in 2014 involving so-called contracts for difference outlined in the government’s new energy bill, which should reach the statute book in the autumn of next year.
Centrica declined to comment, but one person familiar with the company said it had relayed its concerns about the letters of comfort to the government. [9]

In February 2013 Centrica announced it had decided to withdrawn from its partnership with EDF in UK nuclear new build, and launched a £500 million share repurchase programme to return surplus capital to shareholders. The company cited spiralling costs:

With pre-development expenditure on the project approaching the agreed £1 billion cap, Centrica’s decision not to proceed follows a detailed appraisal of the project. While there has been progress in a number of key project areas, particularly design and planning, there remains uncertainty about overall project costs and the construction schedule. Centrica’s 20% share of the pre-development expenditure will be written off as an exceptional cost in the Group’s 2012 results.
Sam Laidlaw, Chief Executive of Centrica, said: “We believe that nuclear generation has a valuable role to play in a balanced UK energy mix. Centrica and EDF continue to enjoy a successful partnership in existing nuclear. However, since our initial investment, the anticipated project costs in new nuclear have increased and the construction timetable has extended by a number of years.
“These factors, in particular the lengthening time frame for a return on the capital invested in a project of this scale, have led us to conclude that participation is not right for Centrica and our shareholders. In 2012 we invested over £2 billion in securing supplies of energy for the UK and where we see attractive returns we will continue to invest in Britain’s energy future.” [10]

Still a financial backer of existing nuclear stations

Centrica’s 20 per cent stake in the UK's eight existing nuclear power stations through EDF Energy Nuclear Generation was unaffected by its decision to withdraw from the Hinkley new build project.[10]



  • TLG Communications was listed on the UK Public Affairs Council register as Centrica's external agency up until the end of 2011. [11] No further entries however were listed on either the UKPAC or APPC registers until 2014.


Secondees to UK govt

  • Former Centrica lobbyist was (as of November 2013) seconded to the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as its “Head of Grid Management Strategy”, 'helping formulate energy policy' and designing how the grid will work in future including who pays for it. He is not paid by DECC but rather by Centrica. [22]



Board of Directors 2008


  • Roger Carr - Chairman (since 2004). Carr is also Chairman of the Nominations Committee. Between 2001 to 2004, he was Non-Executive Director. He is also Chairman of Cadbury plc and is a Non-Executive Director to the Court of the Bank of England. Previously he was Chairman of Mitchells and Butlers plc (until June 2008). Carr is also a senior adviser to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co Ltd[24]. Carr's basic salary for 2007 was £413,000. He also held 19,230 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.
  • Sam Laidlaw - Chief Executive ( 2006-2014). Laidlaw is Chairman of the Executive Committee and the Disclosure Committee. He is also Non-Executive Director of HSBC Holdings plc (since 2008), Trustee of the medical charity RAFT and a Director of the Business Council for International Understanding. Previously he was Executive Vice President of the Chevron Corporation, Chief Executive Officer at Enterprise Oil and President and Chief Operating Officer at Amerada Hess. He was also Non-Executive Director of Hanson plc (until 2007). Renumeration for Laidlaw in 2007 was £873,000 basic salary, £753,000 Annual Incentive Scheme, £180,000 in 'additional payments', £64,000 in benefits. In total £1,870,000 for 2007. Laidlaw also holds 891,320 shares as at December 2007[24]
  • Mary Francis CBE - Senior Independent Director. Francis is Senior Independent Director and Chairman of the Corporate Responsibility Committee. She is also a Non-Executive Director of Aviva plc, St. Modwen Properties plc and Alliance & Leicester plc, as well as being a Director of the Almeida Theatre. She was formerly a Director General of the Association of British Insurers, a Non-Executive Director of the Court of the Bank of England and a senior civil servant in the Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Office. Renumeration for Francis in 2007 was £84,000 basic salary. She also holds 981 shares as at December 2007[24]
  • Helen Alexander CBE - Non-executive Director (since 2003). Alexander is Chairman of the Remuneration Committee. She is also a Vice-President of the CBI, a senior adviser of Bain Capital, a Trustee with the Tate Gallery, an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford and a Non-Executive Director of Rolls Royce plc. She was previously Chief Executive of the Economist Group (until 2008) and a Non-Executive Director with the BT Group plc and Northern Foods plc. Alexander's basic salary for 2007 was £69,000. Alexander also holds 2,520 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]
  • Phil Bentley - Managing Director, British Gas. Bently joined Centrica in 2000. He is also a Non-Executive Director and the Chairman of the Audit Committee of Kingfisher plc. He was formerly Finance Director of UDV Guinness and Group Treasurer and Director of Risk Management with Diageo plc, he spent 15 years with BP plc ('in various international oil and gas exploration roles'). Remuneration for Bentley in 2007 was £567,000 basic salary, £516,000 Annual Incentive Scheme, £42,000 in benefits. In total £1,125,000 for 2007. Bentley also holds 740,346 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]
  • Mark Hanafin - Managing Director, Centrica Energy and Europe (since 2008). Hanafin previously served Shell (in a variety of roles including CEO) and prior to this the General Electric Company.
  • Nick Luff - Group Finance Director (since 2007). Luff is also a Non-Executive Director of QinetiQ Group plc. Previously he served as Chief Financial Officer of The Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). He qualified as a chartered accountant at KPMG. Remuneration for Luff in 2007 was £442,000 basic salary, £399,000 Annual Incentive Scheme, £145,000 in 'additional payments', £3,000 in benefits. In total £989,000 for 2007. Luff also holds 276,545 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]
  • Andrew Mackenzie (until December 2013)- Non-executive Director (he joined the board in 2005). Mackenzie is a Trustee with think tank Demos (where he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees between 2005 to 2007). He is also Group Executive and Chief Executive Non-Ferrous at BHP Billiton (since 2008) and Chief Executive Diamonds and Minerals with Rio Tinto plc (since 2004). He previously served 22 years with BP plc (in a variety of senior technical and engineering positions before becoming Group Vice President of BP Petrochemicals). Mackenzie's basic salary for 2007 was £58,000. He also holds 21,000 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]
  • Paul Rayner - Non-executive Director (he joined the Board in 2004). Rayner serves as Chairman of the Audit Committee. he is also Non-Executive Director of Qantas Airways Limited (since 2008), held senior executive appointments Rothmans Holdings Ltd in Australia (since 1991) and is Chief Operating Officer of British American Tobacco Australasia (since 1999). He was previously Finance Director of British American Tobacco plc (between 2002 to 2008). Rayner's basic salary for 2007 was £75,000. He also holds 5,000 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]
  • Paul Walsh - Non-executive Director (He joined the Board in 2003). Walsh is the former Chief Executive of Diageo plc (also previously its Chief Operating Officer), and is a Non-Executive Director of Federal Express Corporation, a Governor of the Henley Management Centre and is Deputy Chairman of the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum. Walsh's basic salary for 2007 was £58,000. He also holds 4,500 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]

In 2007, Jake Ulrich is listed as a Board member in the role of Managing Director, Centrica Energy. Ulrich was appointed to the Board in 2005 and became Managing Director in 1997. He was previously Managing Director of Accord Energy Ltd (a joint venture between Natural Gas Clearinghouse (NGC) and British Gas plc (1994 to 1997). he also previously worked with NGC, Union Carbide Corporation and the OXY/Mid Con/Peoples Energy Group. Remuneration for Ulrich in 2007 was £567,000 basic salary, £427,000 Annual Incentive Scheme, £39,000 in benefits. In total £1,033,000 for 2007. Ulrich also holds 743,626 shares in Centrica as at December 2007.[24]

Executive Team 2008

  • Sam Laidlaw - Chief Executive
  • Phil Bentley - Managing Director, British Gas
  • Grant Dawson - Group General Counsel and Company Secretary. Dawson joined British Gas in 1996 and has been Centrica's Group General Counsel and Company Secretary since the demerger from British Gas 1997.
  • Mark Hanafin - Managing Director, Centrica Energy and Europe
  • Deryk King - Managing Director, North America (since 2000). King previously served as Group Managing Director of Powergen plc.
  • Nick Luff - Group Finance Director
  • Catherine May - Group Director of Corporate Affairs (since 2006). May previously served as Group Director of Corporate Relations with Reed Elsevier.
  • Anne Minto OBE - Group Director, Human Resources (since 2002). Minto was previously Director of Human Resources with the Smiths Group plc (from 1998).
  • Chris Weston - Managing Director, British Gas Services (since 2005). Weston was previously Managing Director with British Gas Business (from 2002).


Joint Ventures


  • Legal & General Group Ordinary shares = 194,972,537. 5.30% share of capital - Direct holding
  • Legal & General Group Ordinary shares = 18,637,022. 0.51% share of capital - Indirect holding
  • Petronas Ordinary shares = 145,000,000. 3.94% of share capital - Direct holding[28]



Contact details, Resources, Publications, Notes


Centrica plc – registered office and corporate headquarters

Centrica plc. Millstream, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 5GD.



See: Fracking lobbying firms

See: Fracking Spads


  1. Centrica Annual report 2007 Accessed 26 August 2008
  2. UKBCSE BCSE Members, BCSE homepage. accessed 12/02/09
  3. Centrica pulls out of UK CCS competition, Projects / Policy, May 11 2009 (Carbon Capture Journal)
  4. BG plc BG History, accessed 28 August 2008
  5. Damian Carrington, Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition, The Guardian, Friday 17 January 2014 15.37 GMT
  6. BBC News ' BE backer 'proposes Centrica tie' 24th August 2008. Accessed 26 August 2008
  7. Pagnamenta, R. & Kennedy, S. (2008) 'Centrica issues British Energy statement'. 8 August 2008. Accessed 26 August 2008
  8. 8.0 8.1 Our role in nuclear, Centrica website, undated, acc 15 October 2013
  9. accessed same day
  10. 10.0 10.1 Centrica announces decision not to participate in UK nuclear new build and launches £500 million share repurchase programme, Centrica press release, 04 February 2013
  11. UKPAC Register, Period 1 September 2011 to 30 November 2011
  12. Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 23 February 2015
  13. dates tbc
  14. 2015
  15. dates tbc
  16. dates tbc
  17. dates tbc
  18. Barry Neville, Linkedin, acc 23 August 2013
  19. Lisa Poole, LinkedIn, accessed 28 May 2012
  20. Daniel Riley profile, LinkedIn, accessed 28 May 2012
  21. Daniel Farey-Jones,Centrica media relations chief Greg Wood to join Bell Pottinger, PR Week, 5 August 2014, accessed 20 October 2014
  22. FOIs reveal British Gas role in energy policy, Greenpeace Energy Desk, 11 November 2013
  23. Centrica Management Accessed 26 August 2008
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 24.7 24.8 24.9 Centrica Annual report 2007 Accessed 26th August 2008
  25. Centrica Businesses Accessed 26th August 2008
  26. Centrica Annual report 2007 Accessed 26th August 2008
  27. Centrica Annual report 2007 Accessed 26th August 2008
  28. Centrica Annual report 2007 Accessed 26th August 2008
  29. Winning, D. (2004) 'THE AA MAY BE LISTED FOLLOWING £1.75 BILLION SALE'. Press Association. 1st July 2004
  30. Centrica Annual report 2007 Accessed 26th August 2008
  31. Register of All-Party Groups (As at 28 February 2013), parliament.co.uk
  32. Bell Pottinger Comms, register Dec15-Feb16, APPC, accessed 15 April 2016