In the News... Centrica

- Bring us up to speed

Not content with alarming the country with 35 per cent price hikes, and potentially pushing more people into fuel poverty, Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is also said to be renewing interest in a merger with British Energy - Britain's nuclear operator. Centrica also said it was talking to an unnamed third party about taking a minority stake in British Energy if the unnamed firm acquired the nuclear operator. French energy company EDF had looked the front runner for a possible deal with the nuclear power generator.

- The media reaction

A British energy company being linked with the future of British nuclear power was always going to make headlines. But after last week's price hike stoked consumer and media ire, it is difficult to assess just which side of the potential deal is the most controversial right now. Centrica's interim profits of £992m are also still making column inches.

- Who are the PR players here?

Late last year, Centrica snatched Freud Communications' ex-Britvic head of media Julian Mears as media relations manager and he will have had his work cut out this week. The impressive Centrica's director of corporate affairs Catherine May is one of the few FTSE 100 PR heads to sit on a company's executive board.

- Anything to learn?

If Centrica was hoping to bury bad news with a slew of new headlines about a possible merger, then to an extent it managed to do so. But not completely. The real gains will be made if the merger does happen and the firm can promise cheaper energy, in the form of nuclear power, in the future.

35% - How much Centrica is raising prices.

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