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Centrica Climbs in London After Extending Buyback Program

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Centrica Plc, the largest energy supplier to U.K. households, rose the most in two months in London trading after pledging to return the proceeds of a U.S. divestment to shareholders.

Centrica advanced 1.7 percent to 328.7 pence, the biggest gain since Oct. 15. That values the Windsor, England-based company at 16.7 billion pounds ($27 billion).

The company’s North American subsidiary, Direct Energy, has agreed to sell gas-fired power stations in Texas to Blackstone Group LP for 420 million pounds, Centrica said today in a statement. The utility plans to return the proceeds to shareholders by extending its buyback program next year.

Centrica, which has forecast only “modest” profit growth at its British Gas Services unit in 2013, opened a 500 million-pound share-repurchase program earlier this year. The utility said at the end of July that more than 240 million pounds of stock had been bought back so far.

“The continuation of the buyback should be moderately earnings-enhancing,” Angelos Anastasiou, a utilities analyst at Whitman Howard Ltd. in London, said today in a note. “We see this as good news.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nidaa Bakhsh in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at

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