Ex-British Gas boss Bentley lands top job at C&W Comms

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Phil Bentley, the former British Gas boss who quit - with shares, bonuses and a pension pot worth £15 million - because he wanted to be a chief executive today won just that role.

Bentley was named as chief executive of Cable and Wireless Communications, the telecoms group demerged from its UK network three years ago.

After 140 years as a British company, CWC in May set out plans to relocate its headquarters from Holborn to Miami in Florida, transferring about 100 jobs to the US, including that of the boss.

But current chief executive Tony Rice has decided he doesn’t want to move to Florida, CWC said, and Bentley does.

Bentley, former managing director of British Gas, was previously head of Europe and finance director at Centrica, the domestic energy supplier’s parent. But he quit in February after it became clear he wasn’t going to get the chief executive role, due to Centrica’s boss Sam Laidlaw staying put.

Bentley had a comfortable departure, however: although his job ended in July, Centrica agreed to pay his basic salary of £635,000 until the end of this year.

It said that if Bentley secured a new job all remuneration will cease at that time. But since Bentley officially starts at CWC on 1 January, he looks set to secure his full payment from Centrica.

Sir Richard Lapthorne, chairman of CWC, said: “I am delighted to have attracted someone of Phil Bentley’s calibre to lead the company.

“Phil demonstrated his leadership skills at British Gas, combining strong operational capability with a real focus on customer value.”

That “customer value” might be doubted by British Gas households, who saw Bentley preside over a string of above-inflation hikes that made average bills nearly double to more than £1,300 a year.