Coun­cil-owned en­ergy com­pany moves to off­load cus­tomers as debts pile up

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Ed Clowes

A COUN­CIL-OWNED en­ergy sup­plier whose clients in­clude Jeremy Cor­byn, the for­mer Labour leader, is in talks to sell cus­tomer ac­counts af­ter fall­ing into heavy debt.

Robin Hood En­ergy has hired Deloitte to over­see the sale of its book to an un­named buyer. The firm was launched by Not­ting­ham City Coun­cil in 2015 but fell into fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty last year. The coun­cil was forced to write off loans worth more than £24m af­ter the sup­plier failed to make money. Ri­vals Oc­to­pus and EDF have been the main buy­ers of do­mes­tic cus­tomer books in the past few years, ex­perts say. How­ever, many of the larger sup­pli­ers are un­der­stood to be on the hunt for bar­gains as the pan­demic rocks the en­ergy in­dus­try.

Robin Hood’s par­lous fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion was re­vealed in Au­gust when the com­pany fi­nally re­leased long-over­due fi­nan­cial state­ments fol­low­ing a de­lay of over seven months.

The ac­counts show that the com­pany lost £23m in 2018-19, and that Not­ting­ham coun­cil’s in­vest­ment is now worth­less. Coun­cil of­fi­cials have said a re­view of the com­pany is be­ing car­ried out with all op­tions still on the ta­ble, in­clud­ing a sale.

Not­ting­ham City Coun­cil said that it had “recog­nised for some time that the long-term fi­nan­cial out­look for Robin Hood En­ergy was not sus­tain­able”.

Mean­while staff at coun­cil-owned Bris­tol En­ergy have been told that the busi­ness in­tends to sell its do­mes­tic cus­tomer ac­counts af­ter fall­ing into fi­nan­cial trou­ble, a com­pany source said.

Bris­tol City Coun­cil has in­jected £35m into the busi­ness since 2015. Last month, the com­pany said that it had sold its 4,000 busi­ness cus­tomer ac­counts to sup­plier Yü En­ergy for £1.3m.

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