Bulb takeover by Octopus Energy faces legal challenge from rivals
Nov 29 (Reuters) – The acquisition of British energy supplier Bulbs by Octopus Energy faces further delays after rival suppliers E.ON, British Gas and Scottish Power told the High Court in London on Tuesday that they were mounting a legal challenge to the deal.
Bulb, which had around 1.5 million domestic customers, was one of the biggest energy suppliers to collapse last year. The UK government’s official budget forecaster said earlier this month that support for Bulb would cost around 6.5 billion pounds ($7.8 billion).
A deal for Octopus to buy Bulb was approved by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) last month. The transaction also required High Court approval.
But Octopus’ proposed takeover was delayed after E.ON (EONGn.DE), British Gas and Scottish Power raised concerns at a High Court hearing earlier this month.
The three suppliers have now filed a legal challenge against the government’s decision to approve the takeover and provide financing to enable the deal to take place, the court heard on Tuesday.
Jonathan Adkin, representing British Gas, told the hearing there had been an abject lack of transparency over the commercial terms of the deal.
Lawyers representing the directors of Bulbs on Tuesday urged Judge Anthony Zacaroli to set a date for the deal to be completed, despite ongoing legal challenges.
The judge said he would decide on Wednesday whether to set a date for the deal to continue.
A spokesperson for E.ON has confirmed that it has taken legal action against the government’s decision to approve the proposed takeover of Bulb energy and its customers by Octopus and the decision to provide substantial government funding to enable this occur.
A spokesman for the owner of British Gas Centrica (CNA.L) confirmed that it was taking legal action.
An Octopus spokesperson said the company will continue to work hard to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
Scottish Power did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A BEIS spokesperson said: We are aware that a judicial review has been issued. We cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
Reporting by Sam Tobin. Editing by Jane Merriman
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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