British Gas owner Centrica has said it will sell off its US energy retail arm in a £2.8 billion deal.
Direct Energy, which was bought by Centrica in 2000, will be sold to NRG Energy, allowing the British company to focus on its home markets in the UK and Ireland.
Direct Energy has around 4,000 employees and four million customers, making it one of North America’s largest gas and electricity suppliers.
The news of the US sale came as Centrica, which is trying to turn around its flagging fortunes, revealed that it had more than halved its pre-tax loss to £264 million in the six months to June 30, compared to £569 million over the same period last year.
The company said it had lost 5% of its home energy customers, bringing it to around 5.2 million.
Chief executive Chris O’Shea, who took over earlier this year, said: “Centrica delivered a resilient performance against the unprecedented backdrop of the Covid-19 crisis during the first half of the year.
“That is due to the response of colleagues across the group to keep our customers warm, safe and supplied with energy and services during the pandemic. I am truly grateful for their efforts.
“Our mission now is to turn around the company by putting customers at the heart of everything we do and creating a simpler, leaner, more modern and more sustainable company.
“The sale of Direct Energy is a fundamental step towards this, and although we have a lot more to do, we have the people, the brands and the market positions to deliver a successful turnaround.”
Centrica also reiterated its intention to restart the sale of its 69% stake in Spirit Energy when markets recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.