London-based Neptune Oil & Gas has snapped up a majority stake in French utility Engie’s exploration and production business for $3.9bn (£3bn).
Run by former Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw, Neptune is backed by private equity giants The Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners.
“Our ambition is to create a leading international independent E&P [exploration and production] company within the next five years,” Laidlaw said yesterday.
The news came as Engie announced it has launched its UK home energy business along with a plan to roll customers onto the cheapest tariff at the end of their fixed term contract.
Engie said it is the only UK supplier to commit to automatically shifting customers to a cheaper tariff, a plan that will likely go down well in the UK where large energy firms have come under fire for high prices on default tariffs. The Conservative party has pledged a controversial cap on energy prices if it wins the General Election.
“We believe in fair, clear and transparent pricing," said Paul Rawson, divisional chief executive of energy solutions.
"Our rate rollover promise takes the onus away from the customer to switch tariff to get a better deal."
Engie has worked in the UK market for more than 30 years as an electricity and gas supplier for industrial and commercial customers. It also operates power plants in the UK that make up about six per cent of electricity generation capacity in the country, and it previously invested in the NuGen nuclear plant in Cumbria.
"The launch of Engie's home energy business in the UK is a natural extension of our energy and services activities," said Wilfrid Petrie, chief executive of Engie in the UK and Ireland.
Petrie said the firm's fresh approach to consumer engagement means it can provide something different for UK consumers.