Centrica left him far too late to deal with his problems | Nils Pratley | Business


So this is what Chris O’Shea, new CEO of Centrica, owner of British Gas, means by his plan to “modernize and simplify the way we do business”: 20,000 employees in the United Kingdom must accept new conditions or they may lose their jobs.Centrica has not yet started the “layoff and rehiring” process and says it will only do so as a “last resort” if negotiations with unions fail. But a formal warning of mass layoffs has been made.

Union representatives are outraged and understand why. Ten years ago, British Gas was regarded as the UK’s national energy champion – a slow organization perhaps, but not likely to resort to brutal tactics with staff during a pandemic. .

From O”Shea’s point of view, we can see why he feels he has to do something. British Gas has lost 1 million customers in the past two years; the cap on energy prices has plummeted profits; smaller rivals are more agile and sharper. Basic wages and pensions will be protected, says Centrica, but changes to work schedules, such as weekend shifts and holidays, are needed to keep up with the competition.

It is difficult, however, to see the impasse with employees as anything other than a shocking management failure for many years. Iain Conn, the last CEO, inherited a company in 2015 with decent profit margins, a big dividend and a dominant market position. There were too many debts, and the dividend turned out to be an unaffordable luxury, but somewhere in this mix, there should have been room to “modernize and simplify” before a challenge became the crisis of today.

In this case, Conn left in March, after having reduced the shares from 270p to 40p, and out of the FTSE 100 index, on his watch. It cut a few thousand jobs in its time (and another 5,000 are expected to disappear), but clearly failed to get the business back into shape when conditions were milder. Centrica’s rot was at the top.

The firm head of bookmakers leaves his post again

Ayrshire must be a nice place to pass a lock. He clearly softened Kenny Alexander, managing director of GVC, the betting company that owns Ladbrokes and Coral. He said recently that he had no plans to resign after 13 years of office; now he retires at the age of 51.

The U-turns, however, were the style of Alexander. Last year it sold three-quarters of its shareholding, raising £ 13.7 million, just after being over how the stock market was undervaluing GVC. He was almost right on the evaluation, it must be said: the price was then 666p and, via an exciting race, it is now 880p.

The size of this stake is also an indicator of the profitability of the growth driven by the acquisitions of GVC, from the industry bidder in 2007 to the member of the FTSE 100 index, for the architect. Part of his stock pile arrived via a supercharged stock incentive program that earned him ridiculous £ 55 million between 2016 and 2018.

There is no doubt that Alexander played a strategic armor, foiling the old guard of the industry. He supported the online boom early on. GVC jumped on Ladbrokes Coral at the right time, just when regulatory pressure on fixed odds betting terminals was most intense. And he was prettier than most on industry policy, placing GVC at the “progressive” end on regulation and voluntary codes (even if that doesn’t say much).

However, you will not find this piece of Alexander’s wisdom, delivered to a parliamentary inquiry, in GVC advertisements: “Ninety-nine percent of the customers who play on our sites will lose. If you play more, you probably lose more. Always remember.

Do not read too much the founders of Boohoo by increasing their participations

There is never a bad time for co-founders of a company in crisis to exercise faith in buying a few stocks, but don’t be too excited by the combined sum of £ 15m to Boohoo by Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane.

The increase in their assets is not substantial in percentage. In Kamani’s case, he added 5 million shares to the 152 million he already owned. Kane was 31 meters and now has 33 meters. Indeed, given the drop in the share price over the past fortnight, it would have been strange if the duo had not refueled.


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