Centrica Sells North American Energy Unit to NRG

U.K.-based Centrica has reached an agreement to sell Direct Energy, its North American subsidiary, to NRG Energy for $3.63 billion.

Centrica, which announced the sale along with its half-year earnings, said the deal represents an enterprise value of 7.9 times its 2019 underlying adjusted EBITDA.

“We had a number of expressions of interest in Direct Energy, but it came down to the right price and the right buyer,” Centrica Group chief executive Chris O’Shea said in a conference call.

The deal comes as Centrica is in the midst of a wider restructuring. Last month the company said it was cutting about 5,000 jobs, or nearly 20% of its global workforce. It announced losses of around $1.4 billion last year, and CEO Iain Conn left the company.

Centrica reported its half-year operating profits fell 14% as the COVID-19 crisis led to lower energy demand and weakened commodity prices. The company did not give full-year guidance, citing uncertainty around customer payments and unemployment.

O’Shea took over as CEO permanently in April.

The company said it would use proceeds from the sale to reduce its debt and contribute to its pension plans.

NRG said the deal doubles the number of customers it has to six million and strengthens its position outside its primary base in Texas, into the eastern United States. It said the deal will add about $740 million in annual run-rate adjusted EBITDA while also diversifying earnings.

“It’s really exciting for NRG as we have national reach,” chief executive Mauricio Gutierrez said in an interview.

The deal is expected to close by the end of 2020.

Centrica shares were up nearly 40% on Friday on the news before ending up 16.7%. They were up modestly on Monday. NRG shares were up nearly 3% Friday following the announcement.

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Centrica, NRG Energy