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Centrica has reported an almost 10-fold surge in first-half profits at British Gas, the UK’s largest household energy supplier.
Margins at British Gas, which has about 7.5mn customers, were boosted by higher gas and electricity prices, the company said on Thursday as it set out plans to increase its dividend and extend a share buyback plan.
The London-listed company intends to pay an interim dividend of 1.33 pence per share, up 33 per cent from the same period last year. It will also extend its share buyback programme by a further £450mn.
Centrica’s chief executive Chris O’Shea said the company would spend an extra £50mn on helping vulnerable customers, taking its total on the programme to £100mn since the start of 2022.
Bills have fallen since the height of the energy crisis last year when wholesale prices surged, but are still far higher than normal.
Under regulator Ofgem’s current price cap, which limits how much suppliers can charge for energy, typical households will pay £2,074 a year, well above the pre-crisis average of £1,150.
Adjusted operating profits at British Gas surged to £969mn in the first six months of this year, up from £98mn in the first half of 2022. Overall, Centrica reported an adjusted operating profit of £2.1bn in the half, up from £1.3bn in 2022.
Profits at British Gas were also buoyed by about £500mn after Ofgem allowed the company to recover losses incurred when the price cap set by the energy regulator was too low to fully account for costs faced by suppliers.