Under-fire Centrica turns to BP man Ian Conn for top job


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The Independent Online

The owner of under-fire energy company British Gas has confirmed that its new boss will be veteran BP man Ian Conn.

When he takes over from existing Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw in January, 51-year-old Mr Conn will walk into a fat pay package worth up to £3.7m, with basic pay standing at £925,000.

He’ll also walk away from BP after 29 years – including a decade on the board – with an attractive cash pile. Including share options, he is estimated to be worth as much as £16m.

But he’ll have a difficult job on his hands taking the reins at Britain’s biggest energy supplier at a time when it is facing unprecedented scrutiny and criticism.

His first major task will be to stop the group being split up by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. The regulator is currently investigating accusations of profiteering by the big energy companies against a background of soaring profits and fast-climbing domestic energy charges.

In a typical response to the appointment, tough-talking Scottish Labour MP John Robertson, who sits on the Energy select committee, said: “Ian Conn is about right – he is conning the public with this insulting salary. His base salary alone is 35 times the average salary and would pay the electricity bill of over seven hundred people.”

Mr Conn said: “I recognise the challenges which we face in rebuilding customer trust in the sector and helping to create an effective and sustainable approach to energy markets.”