Centrica to warn of falling margins at domestic supply business - Sky News

Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:36pm EST

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Nov 13 (Reuters) - British Gas owner Centrica Plc is set to warn of falling margins at its domestic gas and electricity supply business in the third-quarter trading update on Thursday, Sky News reported, citing insiders.

Centrica, one of Britain's "big six" energy suppliers, is expected to say that British Gas' full-year domestic supply margins are likely to come significantly below 5 percent, hurt by rising costs outside the company's control, the broadcaster said. ()

Five of the six energy companies, including Centrica, have increased prices blaming rising costs and political interference. The price increases have ignited accusations that the companies are abusing their market position at consumers' expense.

The issue of rising energy bills has dominated the political agenda since September when opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to freeze energy bills for 20 months if he wins power in a 2015 election.

Centrica responded to Miliband's pledge by attributing rising UK energy bills to "three factors - higher commodity costs where Centrica has to compete to buy gas in a global market; increases in regulated transportation and distribution charges; and environmental costs and taxes".

The company increased its household electricity and gas prices last month by an average of 9.2 percent, more than three times the rate of inflation, prompting an outcry from consumers and criticism from lawmakers who last month hauled in energy company bosses to explain the rises.

Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw said last week he would forego his annual bonus this year, in a move that could help avoid further controversy.

Centrica declined to comment to Reuters on the matter.

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