British Gas Chiefs Poised To Quit In Shake-Up
The bosses of British Gas and its parent company are close to stepping down as part of a management shake-up at Britain's biggest energy supplier.
Sky News can reveal that Chris Weston, who runs Centrica's international downstream division, which includes British Gas, is in detailed talks about taking the top job at Aggreko, the temporary power group.
His exit from Centrica has not yet been finalised, and sources close to the situation insisted that he had not yet formally landed the Aggreko job.
If Mr Weston does secure the role, however, his departure is likely to be announced at roughly the same time as that of Sam Laidlaw, Centrica's long-serving chief executive, sources indicated.
Mr Laidlaw's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent months, and Sky News understands that the company is in advanced negotiations to appoint Iain Conn, a senior BP executive, as his successor.
Centrica said at its annual meeting earlier this month that it was beginning the process of exploring options for management succession, with a replacement also due to be found for Nick Luff, its finance director.
The intense row about energy prices is said to have been a factor in recent deliberations of both Mr Laidlaw and Mr Weston, who has only held the British Gas role for 15 months, over their futures.
Mr Laidlaw agreed to donate his latest annual bonus to charity, while Mr Weston and other Centrica executives have been the subject of tabloid newspaper attention about their domestic energy consumption and lifestyles.
Announcements about one or more of these moves could be made as soon as this week, although the complexity of ongoing negotiations means that they could yet be delayed or even fall apart, the source added.
"There are a lot of moving parts around all of these appointments," one source said.
One of the factors relating to Mr Conn's potential appointment as Centrica's new boss is understood to be his multimillion pound BP shareholding.
BP's latest annual report shows that Mr Conn owns approximately £3m-worth of BP shares and has about £16m-worth of additional awards which are subject to performance criteria.
It was unclear on Wednesday whether Centrica would agree to compensate him for part or all of this sum, with a further political row likely to be ignited if it does so.
Mr Conn is one of Britain's most respected industrialists, having run BP's downstream business since 2007 and also serving as a director of Rolls-Royce Holdings, the engine manufacturer.
He is also understood to have been sounded out about becoming chief executive of BG Group, the FTSE-100 gas producer.
The energy sector is expected to be the subject of a full investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, while Ofgem, the regulator, has mounted an aggressive assault on the conduct of the 'Big Six' gas and electricity suppliers amid criticism of its own performance.
Aggreko, BP and Centrica declined to comment, while Mr Weston and Mr Conn could not be reached for comment.