Centrica Plc has withdrawn from the race to acquire Bulb Energy Ltd., leaving just two confirmed potential bidders for the failed UK supplier, the Financial Times reported, citing sources it didn’t identify.
Centrica’s decision not to proceed may indicate the British government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is banking on a purchaser taking on more of Bulb’s liabilities than the utility would have wanted, FT reported.
Bulb was among the biggest UK energy providers to collapse last year, forcing the government to step in and run it to keep supplying the company’s almost 1.6 million customers.
Related story: UK Sees Bulb Bailout Rising to £1 Billion Over Next Year
The government appointed a special administrator Teneo Inc. to run Bulb using £2.2 billion ($2.7 billion) of taxpayer money until a buyer could be found. The UK’s Centrica and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.-owned Masdar were the only companies reported to be bidding until they were joined by Octopus Energy Ltd. in June.
With Centrica’s withdrawal, one option for Masdar and Octopus could be to join forces, with Masdar providing the cash and Octopus taking on Bulb’s customers, FT cited one of the people close to the deal as saying.
The deadline for Bulb bids is June 30 in a process that is being run by Lazard, FT reported.
Teneo, Centrica, Octopus, Lazard and Bulb declined to comment to FT, and Masdar was unavailable for comment, the news outlet said.