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Centrica profits boosted by the cold winter

Press Release   •   Jul 31, 2013 10:19 BST

British Gas owner Centrica has reported a rise in half-year profits, after the unusually cold winter boosted gas consumption.

Centrica's adjusted operating profit rose 9% to £1.58bn for the six months to 30 June, up from £1.45bn for the same period in 2012. British Gas' residential arm saw profits rise 3% to £356m, up from £345m a year earlier.

"With our customers using more gas to stay warm during the unusually cold winter, we're doing everything we can to help them keep their energy costs under control and make bills simpler and clearer," said chief executive Sam Laidlaw.

Laidlaw said affordability and transparency were key issues for consumers and the group expects to reduce its number of tariffs to four, from five currently, before the end of the year to comply with Ofgem recommendations.

British Gas has introduced a Tariff Checker to help its customers work out if they are on the cheapest tariff, but rising profits are still likely to attract criticism from consumer groups.

The overall number of residential energy customer accounts was broadly flat during the period at almost 15.7 million.

Centrica announced on Tuesday the acquisition of Hess Corp's U.S. energy retail arm for around $1 billion (657 million pounds), following on from a joint deal with Qatar in April to buy oil and gas assets in Canada from Suncor.

Britain's leading energy retailer by revenues will also provide an estimated $300m of additional working capital as part of the acquisition, carried out by its Direct Energy subsidiary. The transaction is expected to close this year.

The purchase is part of Centrica's plan - outlined in February - to more than double the profitability of its North American energy supply activities during the next three to five years.

For more information on Centrica, see the latest research: Centrica

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