The United Kingdom-based Centrica plc completed the acquisitionof Calgary’s Direct Energy Marketing Ltd. and its primary marketingagent Natural Gas Wholesalers, unveiling the British company’sfirst sizeable venture into the international arena.

The C$912 million deal, which includes the assumption of debt, wasannounced on July 6 of this year (see Daily GPI, July 7). Direct Energy’s unitholdersapproved the deal at a meeting in Canada last Friday.

“The acquisition of Direct Energy provides us with a strong basefor growth and comes at a time when the pace of deregulation inNorth American energy markets is accelerating,” said Centrica’sCEO, Roy Gardner. “It offers us the opportunity to export theskills and expertise Centrica has gained during the deregulation ofthe UK energy markets and creates a platform for the provision ofother products and services.”

Direct Energy is the largest unregulated retailer of natural gasin North America. It serves almost 820,000 gas customers, mostly inthe Ontario area. The company also owns and operates gas reserveslocated in Alberta, which make up for 20% of its customers needs.

One of Centrica’s key interests in the acquisition of DirectEnergy was its27.5% stake in Energy America, a joint venture withSempra Energy. Energy America is a deregulated energy supplierserving about 450,000 customers in Georgia, Ohio, Maryland,Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Direct energy and EnergyAmerica both use Natural Gas Wholesalers for marketing and callcenter services.

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