Director leaves power vacuum at London Electricity

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Martin Wenban, managing director of London Electricity's retail supply arm, has unexpectedly left his position just five months after he was promoted from the post of commercial director.

Mr Wenban was responsible for a retail business supplying nearly three million customers including the London Electricity and SWEB businesses, as well as Virgin Energy ­ in which London Electricity has a 25 per cent stake.

The move comes ahead of a restructuring at London Electricity, designed to accommodate the different aspects of the company's business.

Sources at the company said that Mr Wenban had wanted to leave ahead of the restructuring and that the move was finalised last week after discussions with Bruno Lescoeur, London Electricity's chairman and chief executive.

Under the restructuring plans London Electricity, which is owned by the state controlled Eléctricité de France (EDF), is set to be divided into retail, generation, distribution and metering businesses. The move is expected to go ahead later this year once the company has approval from regulator Ofgem ­ the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets.

London Electricity has already separated its supply and distribution businesses under requirements set out by Ofgem ­ a process finalised in April last year.

London Electricity stressed that it had been Wenban's decision to step down, adding that he will continue to work as a member of EDF's international marketing group "for the foreseeable future".

London Electricity is currently seeking a successor to Wenban, with Derek Lickorish, managing director of customer service taking over day-to-day responsibility for the retail operation in the interim. Group finance director Gerald Wingrove will oversee the energy purchasing and risk management side of the business.

Sources at the company stressed that the rest of the senior management team remains in place, adding that Mr Wenban's departure had "no connection at all" to London Electricity's recent £1.5bn bid for Seeboard, the South-east England electricity company, owned by American Electric Power. A spokeswoman for London Electricity said: "London Electricity Group confirms that Martin Wenban has relinquished his role as managing director of London Electricity's retail supply business with immediate effect.

Derek Lickorish, managing director of London Electricity customer services, will assume responsibility for London Electricity's retail supply business for an interim period while the group seeks the appointment of a new managing director for its retail supply business."