Centrica agrees sale of Onetel for up to £154 million

Centrica plc today announces it has agreed to sell its telecommunications business Onetel to the Carphone Warehouse Group for a consideration of up to £154 million.

Of this consideration, £49 million is contingent upon the achievement by Centrica of certain performance targets for the sale of telecoms products to British Gas customers over the next three years.

As part of this, Centrica has signed an agreement with Carphone Warehouse to continue to provide telecoms products to British Gas customers.

Onetel, which includes the former British Gas Communications business and other acquisitions, now has more than 1.55 million customers taking 1.8 million services, principally fixed line. Turnover was £280m in 2004 and £162m in the first half of 2005.

Sir Roy Gardner, Centrica chief executive, said: “We have grown Onetel substantially over the past few years to become a significant residential fixed line competitor to BT.

“However, as we have made clear for some time, global energy markets are changing rapidly and we want to focus closely on growing our core energy and related services operations in the UK and internationally. We will continue offering telecoms services to our British Gas customers, but we don’t need to own Onetel to do this.”

Of the consideration, Centrica will receive £132 million in cash on completion.

The net proceeds of the disposal will be used to help fund further investment for growth in the UK and international energy markets.

The sale is cash and debt free and subject to adjustment based on the working capital in the business at completion.