World's largest smart meter group set up

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A private investment group today launched the world's largest smart metering company under the Landis+Gyr brand to capitalise on a worldwide push toward greater energy efficiency.

The Bayard Group, an investment vehicle including the New South Wales Superannuation Fund, the chief executive of Independent News & Media, Sir Anthony O'Reilly, and the Gulf-based investor Dubai International Capital, has spent $1.5bn (£761m) over the past five years buying up companies to build the world's biggest provider of smart meter technology. Yesterday, it relaunched under the Landis+Gyr brand name to consolidate the company under a single identity.

Smart meters allow customers to track real-time their energy consumption, and their bill, at home. Some may allow individual users even to track the carbon generated from their use, and send excess energy back into the grid.

Environmental campaigners and industry have said the large scale rollout of the technology into people's homes will lead to significant reductions in consumption, making it a favourite of emission reduction-obsessed governments.

The British Government is conducting a pilot programme on different technologies and is expected to make its final decision in November on a countrywide rollout. The programme would entail visiting every one of Britain's 26 million homes and is expected to cost at least £5bn. Some estimates are three times that.

France and Holland have also declared their intentions for wholesale smart meter installation, as have major utilities in Canada and America. "This is a global phenomenon, and it's not driven by the same thing in every place," said Cameron O'Reilly, the founder of Bayard and chief executive of Landis + Gyr. "Energy conservation is crucia and it must be supported by sophisticated, technologically advanced, management systems critical to meeting energy demand while reducing cost and improving the environment."

Mr O'Reilly hopes to float the group – which earned $200m on $1.2bn in turnover last year – within 18 months.