British PM May vows energy price cap if re-elected

Centrica the owner of British Gas faced challenging shareholder questions as a proposed price cap looms on the horizonALAMY

Centrica has proposed alternative ways to improve the market, without resorting to price regulation.

LONDON-Centrica PLC (CNA.LN) said Monday it will report 2017 results in line with its previous guidance, which includes a further 250 million pounds ($313.8 million) of cost-savings.

In a statement ahead of its AGM, Centrica (Frankfurt: A0DK6K - news) said the Conservative proposal to place limits on bills, which is tipped to shave £100 from standard variable tariffs used by the bulk of United Kingdom households, could reduce competition.

In the duration of 12 months Centrica PLC's share price has increased by 0% to 203 from 0.00.

"So I am making this promise: if I am re-elected on 8 June, I will take action to end this injustice by introducing a cap on unfair energy price rises".

Just yesterday Centrica PLC (LON:CNA) traded -1.51% lower at 194.60GBX.

However, the fact that Britain's two main parties agree something ought to be done to fix the energy market, shows how big of an issue surging energy bills have become. "Evidence from other countries would suggest this will lead to reduced competition and choice, and potentially higher average prices". Investec reiterated a "buy" rating and issued a GBX 260 ($3.36) target price on shares of Centrica PLC in a research note on Friday, January 13th.

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The utility, which owns household energy supplier British Gas, also used a first-quarter trading statement and annual general meeting (AGM) on Monday to fire off another warning shot against any government moves to cap energy tariffs.

Operating performance in the year to date has been largely as expected with most operational inputs and parameters in line with plan.

The British energy market is dominated by Centrica, SSE and Scottish Power, Npower, E.ON and EDF Energy.

Combined profits of the suppliers rose by 7.8%, or almost £1.1bn, in 2016. "It does seem that a wave of 10% price hikes this spring was bad timing for companies who maybe thought they had a few more years until a General Election and who didn't bank on the Conservatives going down this route".

Asset manager Henderson (HGGH.L) benefited from a UBS upgrade and rose to join the top mid-cap gainers, up 2.3 percent and on track for its best day in six months.

"Long-term investors will be familiar with the tricks the weather and energy prices can play on Centrica's profits".

According to a Government-backed study, customers have been forced to pay £1.4bn a year in "excessive prices", but the CMA stopped short of imposing a cap for fear of stifling the competition.

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