August 30, 2017 / 5:16 PM / a year ago

Total aiming for 2 million gas and power clients in France

PARIS (Reuters) - French oil and gas company Total will start retailing gas and power in France by the end of this year and aims to win about two million customers, chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: A customer holds a gas pump as he fills-up his car in a Total station in Nice, France, February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

Asked on BFM Business radio and TV when Total might start selling gas and power, Pouyanne said: “Soon, before the start of the year”.

He said that following the acquisition of Belgian power retailer Lampiris last year, Total had some 500,000 retail customers in France and was hoping to boost that number to two million.

“We will try to win French clients by selling gas and power competitively with a modern, digital system ... Total is well-known and credible,” Pouyanne said.

FILE PHOTO: Total Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Host Photo Agency/Pool/File Photo.

He said selling gas to retail customers was a natural extension of its gas production, which accounts for about half of its turnover.

Pouyanne said Total had paid about 200 million euros for Lampiris in June 2016. The company wants to become a top renewable energy and electricity trading player within 20 years. Last year, it also acquired battery maker Saft.

“We will seek to win clients in a low-cost way, digitally, not by knocking on doors,” Pouyanne said.

Total is one of several players trying to win market share from former monopoly power vendor EDF, whose market share has fallen to about 87 percent following the opening of the market ten years ago.

Gas group Engie had more than 3 million electricity customers in France at the end of last year, for a market share of nearly 10 percent, and aims to win another million customers.

Direct Energie, France’s third-biggest electricity provider, said earlier this year it wanted to nearly double its client base to 4 million by 2020.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Mark Potter

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