North American acquisition marks major step in Centrica's international expansion

Centrica plc today announced completion of its acquisition of Direct Energy Marketing Ltd (Direct Energy), marking the first major step in the roll-out of its international development strategy.

The transaction, which includes the purchase of Direct Energy's primary marketing agent, Natural Gas Wholesalers, received the approval of unitholders at a meeting in Canada on Friday 18th August. The total consideration, including assumption of debt, is C$912m/£406m.

Centrica's Chief Executive, Roy Gardner, said: "The acquisition of Direct Energy provides us with a strong base for growth and comes at a time when the pace of deregulation in North American energy markets is accelerating.

"It offers us the opportunity to export the skills and expertise Centrica has gained during the deregulation of the UK energy markets and creates a platform for the provision of other products and services."

Direct Energy is the largest unregulated retailer of natural gas in North America, with approximately 820,000 gas customers, primarily in Ontario. In addition, it owns and operates natural gas reserves in Alberta, which provide up to 20 per cent of its customer demand.

The business also has a 27.5 per cent interest in Energy America L.L.C., a joint venture with Sempra Energy. This joint venture is expanding across the deregulating gas and electricity markets of the United States and currently has approximately 450,000 customers.

Natural Gas Wholesalers provides marketing and call centre services to both Direct Energy and Energy America.