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Centrica Profit Gains 5.5% on Increase in U.K. Gas Demand

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Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Centrica Plc, the biggest power and gas supplier to U.K. homes, boosted 2012 profits by 5.5 percent as domestic gas demand rose because of cooler weather.

Adjusted earnings rose to 1.4 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) from 1.33 billion pounds a year earlier, the Windsor, England-based company said today in a statement. That was in line with the average average of 1.38 billion pounds estimate by 16 analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“After a warm 2011, cooler weather saw average domestic gas consumption increase” by 12 percent, the company said in the statement.

Chief Executive Officer Sam Laidlaw, outlining the company’s strategy, said the company would make North America a “more material” part of Centrica’s business, doubling profitability there within five years. He also rejigged management, appointing international heads of downstream and upstream. British Gas chief Phil Bentley will leave the company.

Centrica earlier this month opted out of a plan to build nuclear reactors at two power plants in the U.K. with Electricite de France SA, writing off 200 million pounds it spent on advanced costs. It also completed a 500 million-pound share buyback program.

The company’s British Gas unit made a profit of 1.09 billion pounds versus 1 billion pounds a year earlier, according to the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at nbakhsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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