Lamp boss leaves collapsed British energy supplier

Bulb chief executive Hayden Wood is set to leave the collapsed British energy supplier at the end of July as the British government hopes to seal a sale of the group that was bailed out by taxpayers.

Wood had stayed with Bulb after being placed in “special administration” last year and propped up with a UK taxpayer loan, initially of £1.7bn.

His continued presence with the company raised eyebrows given the scale of the bailout – it was the largest bailout of a company by the UK taxpayer since government interventions in Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS in 2008.

He has been criticized by MPs for continuing to receive a taxpayer-funded salary of £250,000 while helping Teneo special trustees find a buyer. Bulb is the UK’s seventh largest energy retailer, with approximately 1.5 million customers.

The company said: “Heyden Wood, CEO and co-founder of Bulb, is stepping down from the company. We wish him all the best for the future.”

Staff were told at an internal briefing on Thursday that Wood would be leaving at the end of July. A person familiar with the case said he would not receive severance pay.

A former management consultant, Wood co-founded Bulb with former Barclays energy trader Amit Gudka in 2015 as a challenger to the dominance of what were then known as the “big six” energy retailers – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power.

The company grew rapidly, aided by special offers for customers who referred a friend and a single rate that often undercut the rest of the market. Bulb was criticized by rivals who suspected it lacked sufficient coverage to survive sudden surges in wholesale energy prices.

That theory proved true in early 2021 when wholesale gas prices started to rise. Bulb initially sought new sources of outside funding and then tried to sell itself to industry competitors, before finally admitting to regulator Ofgem last November that it could no longer continue as a continuity. At a parliamentary hearing in April, Wood apologized to MPs for the “way things have turned out” with the company.

The British government is trying to auction the group. Centrica, the owner of British Gas, withdrew from the race this month, leaving British rival Octopus Energy and Masdar, an Abu Dhabi energy company, as the only two confirmed bidders in the race.

No replacement CEO has been appointed. Wood’s roles will be shared among the rest of the executive team.

The company has continued to incur losses and costs to consumers since it took office, with Bulb making a loss of £886 million in the six months since nationalisation, according to administrator reports released earlier this month.

Numerous creditors, including many small businesses, are in debt of £585 million and are likely to go unpaid.

But Sequoia, an infrastructure fund backed by Bulb’s parent company Simple, is guaranteed to receive its initial investment of £55 million and has earned a £10 million dividend since November.

Teneo, who is leading the administration process, is expected to receive tens of millions of pounds, while Lazards, who is handling the sale, is expected to receive £1.5 million.

Including Bulb, 30 UK energy supplies collapsed in the past year, sparking criticism of regulator Ofgem’s oversight of the sector.

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