By Howard Mustoe
BBC Radio 4Copyright: GETTY IMAGES
British Gas owner Centrica reported its results for 2019 this morning.
Due to lower prices of natural gas and the introduction of the energy price cap, it saw a 35% slump in full-year operating profit.
Britain's largest energy supplier said adjusted operating profit for the year ended 31 December fell to £901m from £1.39bn pounds a year earlier.
Iain Conn, chief executive of Centrica, called 2019 a "difficult year, with the first year of the implementation of the price cap".
He told the BBC's Today programme that there were however some bright spots: "Very importantly, our core customer business did well, with profits improving by £298m. That nearly offset the impact seen by the introduction of the price cap."
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In news of another court case involving a former taxpayer-owned business, British Gas owner Centrica, has won a court battle with energy regulator Ofgem.
The energy supplier took legal action after the regulator announced a surprise change to the methodology used to set the energy price cap.
Centrica said the late change in determining fair energy prices for 11m homes knowingly underestimated the cost of supplying energy last winter, and would lead to an unexpected one-off cost increase of £70m for British Gas.
The case revolved around the way the watchdog calculated wholesale costs under the cap.
Ofgem said it was disappointed by the judgment but its energy price cap would remain fundamentally unchanged.
The FTSE 100 is trading 0.20% lower at 7,411.02.
Whitbread remains the biggest faller with its share price down 4.5% at £42.63.
British Gas-owner Centrica is now leading the FTSE 100 risers, up 2.1% at 75.02p.
FTSE 250 is down 0.24% at 19,922.73
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Iain Conn, chief executive of Centrica, which owns British Gas, received a 44% rise in his pay last year to £2.4m.
The pay package is being described as "obscene" by the GMB union which has written to major institutional investor to urge them vote against the company's pay at next month's annual general meeting.
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “Ordinary Centrica workers are not being offered 4% pay rises, never mind 44%.
“The resulting loss of confidence since the announcement of Iain Conn’s planned rise runs right through the company from top to bottom.
“From call centre staff earning 1/120th of the CEO’s pay, to the very highest levels of management are utterly demoralised by the poor judgement and lack of leadership.
“It is a classic boardroom case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’."
The GMB said it has 15,000 members in Centrica, many of whom are themselves shareholders.
The AGM is on 19 May.
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Trade union Unison has called on British Gas employees to use their votes to prevent Centrica boss Iain Conn from being given a £2.4m pay package at a general meeting in May.
British Gas owner Centrica has so far axed 2,000 jobs at the firm.
“This obscene pay rise shows a total lack of empathy for the situation of employees who are struggling to make ends meet or who may soon be losing their jobs," said Unison's national officer for energy Matt Lay.
“It’s impossible to defend when there are cutbacks throughout the company. Staff should make a stand at the forthcoming AGM.
“At a time when the company is struggling financially and staff face an uncertain future it simply cannot be right that the man at the top is enjoying such a huge pay and bonus extravaganza. We ask him to show some leadership by refusing to take this pay rise.”
By Tom Espiner & Eleanor Lawrie & Clara Guibourg