Centrica versus BT: round one

12 Oct 2005

UK alternative telco Centrica is waging a war of words against incumbent BT, accusing the dominant operator of hypocrisy and trying to damage its business, according to the Financial Times. Ian El-Mokadem, chief executive of Centrica’s telecoms business, which offers services under the OneTel and British Gas brands, reacted angrily to a statement from BT revealing how the two sides had reached a settlement over allegations of mis-selling following the threat of court action. Centrica is one of BT’s major competitors in the residential fixed line market. ‘In reality neither our processes nor BT’s processes work well 100% of the time,’ El-Mokadem told the Financial Times. ‘But it is really rich for BT to adopt this stance when they have spent years obstructing consumer choice and when every week we have issues with the way they treat our customers.’

Last month Centrica put its communications business up for sale as part of its plans to focus on its core power supply business. It is expected to value the assets at between GBP350 million and GBP400 million. OneTel was founded in 2000 and is the fourth-largest residential telephony operator in the UK, with around 1.7 million customers; it also has around 100,000 corporate clients. It has boosted business in recent years by cross-selling services with utilities supplier British Gas.

United Kingdom, BT Consumer