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Competitions Watchdog Approves Ovo's Takeover of SSE


Challenger Ovo will become the UK’s second largest energy supplier, after the Competitions and Markets Authority has given the green light to its takeover of SSE’s retail arm.

The CMA judged that the takeover won’t affect competition in the energy supply market.

All 3.5 million customers of Big Six supplier SSE will be transferred over to Ovo beginning in January 2020, as part of a £500 million deal first announced September.

Ovo said the transfer would be a “gradual process” and that customers won’t see interruption in their supplies or changes to their tariffs. Ovo will be in contact with those customers after the transaction is completed in January.

8,000 SSE employees will also be transferred to Bristol-based Ovo.

SSE said it would do “all it can to ensure a smooth transition for customers and employees.”

SSE, once one of the UK’s six dominant energy suppliers, first announced plans to exit the competitive retail energy market two years ago, amid falling customer numbers, mounting losses and the government’s price cap on energy tariffs.

A proposed merger with equally troubled Npower was called off last year, due to “challenging conditions” in the market.

Meanwhile, Ovo has grown rapidly since being launched a decade ago, drawing customers away from Big Six suppliers it criticised for poor customer service and rip-off tariffs. With 1.5 million accounts, it’s currently the UK’s largest challenger energy supplier. The acquisition of SSE’s accounts will take it to five million households, just behind British Gas.

Founder Stephen Fitzpatrick, who still owns a 67% stake in the company, will see his personal wealth rise to £600 million with the competition of the deal. 

He said he looks forward to "bringing SSE into the Ovo family.”

“There is a lot of work to be done, but we’re excited about the challenge ahead and the opportunity to help even more customers on the journey to zero carbon,” he said.

Fitzpatrick was one of the largest donors to the Conservative Party this year, handing over nearly £200,000, amid calls by Labour for the re-nationalisation of the energy market.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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