The UK’s sale of Bulb Energy to Octopus Energy faces further delays as rivals plan to challenge the UK government’s decision in court, according to lawyers for the bust supplier’s administrators.
Iberdrola’s Scottish Power, EON, and Centrica’s British Gas are planning to take the deal to Judicial Review, a court process that looks at the legality of a government decision, Teneo’s lawyers said at a hearing in London on Tuesday.
A judge was expected to rubber stamp the acquisition this week but that has been stymied by the other suppliers who want further scrutiny of a decision they fear was rushed.
Bulb collapsed last year when wholesale prices spiked above the regulator’s price cap, forcing it to sell energy at a loss. The government stepped in to support the biggest bailout since the financial crisis.
“It is worth observing at the outset that the intervening energy companies each had an opportunity to participate in the sales process,” Richard Fisher, a lawyer representing Teneo who are overseeing the sale, said in court documents. “All could have sought meetings with the administrators or government had they wished to investigate different funding options.
The cost of Bulb’s collapse is expected to balloon to £6.5 billion, according to the UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility.
Scottish Power objects to the deal struck as it may involve a “dowry” being paid to Octopus of at least £1 billion to cover buying energy to supply customers with, its lawyers said in court documents. The firm said details of the agreement haven’t been made public or been shown to the opposing firms.
EON and Centrica confirmed the applications for judicial review. EON said its application was over the decision taken to approve the deal and “to provide substantial government funding to allow that to take place,” a spokesperson said.