Conn gone, Centrica battles on


Centrica chief Iain Conn has exited. The former CEO announced he would be resigning in 2020 last July, but stepped down as the company published its annual report.

Finance chief Chris O’Shea takes over as the company continues to search for a permanent chief exec. Chairman Charles Berry has also stepped down, having been on sick leave for the last month. Scott Wheway takes over.

Conn had presided over a difficult period for Centrica, with continuous rounds of cost cuts and restructures as its energy retail business was eroded by cut-price competition.

Its generation business faces significant structural and market headwinds and the company is exiting exploration and production.

The company hopes to remodel itself as a decentralised and smart energy company, though its distributed power systems director, Mark Futyan, has just left to join Anesco after almost 13 years with the company.

Centrica’s share price, in decline for the last six years, appeared to stabilise in recent months. However, it dived on the back of heavy losses announced in February and has more than halved in the last two weeks as traders dump global stocks in corona-induced panic.

The company is now worth a tenth of its 2013 peak, which was close to £4/share. By the time Conn became CEO on 1 January 2015, taking over from Sam Laidlaw, share value had almost halved, trading just above £2. Today they trade at 36p.

Ratings agency Moody’s last week downgraded ratings of Centrica’s debt. However, it believes the firm “will be able to navigate the challenges in its markets, including because of the recent drop in commodity prices, and will take measures, as these may be necessary, to shore up its financial profile.”

Details here.

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