Deeper battle over the sale of UK Bulbs to Octopus Energy

British gas owner Centrica was urged to make an offer to buy back bankrupt energy supplier Bulb and said the government was providing support, in a sign of the day’s fighting increasingly acrimonious about the sale of a company that received the largest state bailout since the financial crisis.

ScottishPower, British Gas and Eon will appear in High Court on Tuesday to try to determine whether there is enough time to conduct a judicial review before the sale to Octopus Energy is completed on 20 May. twelfth.

The government’s proposal for support is important because the three companies have argued that state support, known as a government-supported regulatory mechanism, is not provided during the sales process.

The fast-growing octopus is expected to pay between £100m and £200m to buy Light bulbwith an undisclosed state support package to purchase the energy needed for the company’s 1.5 million customers.

Lazard, the investment bank that handles sales for the government, told Centrica in an August 1 email, seen by the Financial Times, that “the government has been open to discussions regarding support.” necessary, needs”.

Although the bidding process officially ended with Octopus becoming the sole pursuer, Lazard invited Chris O’Shea, Centrica’s chief executive officer, to participate.

“While we’re past the binding bid date, if you have a proposal you’d like to discuss, please send it in writing,” Lazard said in the email, which also includes the offer, Lazard said in the email. offered to meet O’Shea in person.

Centrica said Lazard has refused to disclose the terms of the deal despite requirements under state aid rules where large amounts of government funding are involved. It also said the second-stage process bidding documents made it clear that no aid had been provided.

“When we saw media reports of Octopus receiving substantial financial support from the government, we wrote to the bank leading the acquisition, Lazard, to ask them for assistance. what that includes because we want all parties to know to enable a fair and transparent process,” said Centrica. “Lazard refused to disclose that information, much to our disappointment.”

The cost of rescuing Bulb has skyrocketed, with taxpayers and customers struggling. The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that the bill to taxpayers will soar to £6.5 billion, or more than £200 per household.

The sale to Octopus will create a challenge for British Gas and Eon, with the merged company becoming one of the largest retail energy suppliers in the UK.

But the deal has become increasingly controversial, with the government refusing to disclose the terms of the sale. The legal battle pitted the old defender against one of the most prominent “challenging” new energy companies.

Octopus was launched in 2016 by tech entrepreneur Greg Jackson to break the grip of “old” vendors like Centrica, whose O’Shea executive previously held senior roles at Shell. and the former BG Group.

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