Centrica Appoints Former Insurance Boss to Run British Gas

Centrica Plc appointed an insurance executive to head its British Gas unit as the U.K.’s largest utility seeks to revamp the business that sells power and gas to millions of households.

Mark Hodges, former U.K. chief executive officer of Aviva Plc, will replace Ian Peters, who will stay with the company until the end of the year to help with a market watchdog investigation, Centrica said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hodges, who has worked in the insurance industry for 30 years, will sit on Centrica’s board. He’s the most senior appointment yet made by Centrica CEO Iain Conn, who took charge at the start of year.

The appointment comes at a time when the energy companies are under scrutiny and the opposition Labour Party has pledged to tighten the government’s grip on the utility market if it wins the May 7 election.

The U.K.’s six largest energy suppliers, including Centrica, SSE Plc, Electricite de France SA, and units of RWE AG, Iberdrola SA and EON SE, are subject to an antitrust probe by the Competition and Markets Authority that may ultimately split them into retail and generation businesses. The authority is due to report by the end of the year.

“Mark brings a strong understanding of the U.K. consumer market and a track record in improving business performance,” Centrica said. “He is experienced in working in a regulated environment.”

Hodges will receive a base salary of 625,000 pounds ($915,000) along with as much as 100 percent of his annual salary as a bonus if he achieves all targets, and as much as 200 percent if he “materially” exceeds them, Centrica said.

Hodges started his career at Norwich Union in 1991 and was appointed as finance director in 1999 and managing director in 2005 after the insurer acquired automotive services company RAC Ltd., according to the statement.

Hodges became U.K. CEO of Aviva in 2010 and later led Towergate Partnership, a specialist insurance broker, from 2011 until 2014.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE