British Gas to buy 'smart' tech company AlertMe

AlertMe creates 'smart' home technology that allows people to control and monitor everything from heating to CCTV on their smartphone or tablet

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The Independent Online

British Gas is set to launch a range of internet connected "smart" home appliances, after snapping up the company that powers its app controlled thermostat Hive.

The energy giant is buying nine-year old AlertMe in a deal that values the business at £65m. British Gas already owned a 21 per cent stake in the company and is set to pay £44m for the remainder.

AlertMe creates "smart" home technology that allows people to control and monitor everything from heating to CCTV on their smartphone or tablet. AlertMe’s software is crucial to British Gas' internet connected thermostats Hive.

Kassir Hussain, director of British Gas’ Connected Homes division, said: "This really demonstrates our commitment to this space. This is really strategically important to British gas and Centrica. It’s the final piece in the jigsaw."

AlertMe works with a range of other businesses, including American DIY chain Lowe, and Nina Bhatia, commercial director of British Gas, said these deals will continue. She added: "We’re very ambitious in this space. We don’t just want this to be for British Gas and Centrica. We’re looking at other markets and other partnerships."

Mr Hussain also indicated that British Gas plans to launch a range of products in the smart home space, which covers everything from internet connected washing machines to smoke alarms that can call emergency services. He said: "If you look around the home, you can probably guess where we’re going. It’s not just about energy or utilities, this is a much broader aspiration across the home."

 

The deal comes after a competitive tender process, kicked off after AlertMe called in JPMorgan to review the business. AlertMe boss Mary Turner said: "This is something that we have been looking at for a few months."

Ms Bhatia said: "We have been an investor in AlertMe so we’ve obviously been very close to them and very interested in their progress. I think the key reason [for the deal] is that we want to make sure we have control of the platform and the end to end capabilities to compliment what we already have so we can continue to develop exciting new products for customers and bring them to market as quickly as possible."

AlertMe will be merged with British Gas' Connected Homes unit, creating a combine team of close to 140 people.

The deal comes as energy companies increasingly try to lure in customers with "smart" thermostats that can be controlled remotely, pitching them as money savers. Npower offers new customers Nest thermostats, a brand owned by Google, and SSE this week signed a deal with German company Tado, which makes a rival product. British Gas said over 150,000 people have now signed up to use its Hive product, which lets people monitor and control their heating remotely.

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