British Gas set to hire first female boss after Weston departure

Nina Bhatia and Susan Hooper are the front-runners to take his job running British Gas

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The Independent Online

British Gas is in line to have a female boss for the first time after managing director Chris Weston stunned the City by quitting after just over a year in the job.

The departure of Weston, heir apparent of Centrica after chief executive Sam Laidlaw indicated his desire to leave, means Britain’s biggest energy provider is searching to replace all of its top three executives, as finance director Nick Luff is going to Reed Elsevier.

Weston is to take the helm of generators giant Aggreko, and insiders said former McKinsey partner Nina Bhatia, currently British Gas’s commercial director, and Susan Hooper, who runs British Gas Services, are the front-runners to take his job running British Gas.

Weston is believed to have been interviewed for Laidlaw’s job, but contacted headhunters after failing to be given the nod.

Long-term BP executive Iain Conn is in advanced talks about being appointed at the helm of Centrica but his £16 million of performance-related share awards at BP could prove problematic. Laidlaw said he was “sorry to see [Weston] leave but recognise that Aggreko offers a great opportunity for him”.

The City, however, disagreed, sending shares in Centrica up 3.7p to 334.5p on news of Weston’s departure, which will happen during the next 12 months, while Aggreko shares sunk 43p to 1706p.

Centrica had no details about a succession plan for Weston. Aggreko’s chief Rupert Soames quit to run Serco.