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Who owns the major energy and water suppliers, and how much profit do they make?

Who owns the major energy and water suppliers, and how much profit do they make?

British Gas owner Centrica has reported record profits of £3.3bn, more than triple its profits from the previous year, as many households in Britain struggle with the cost of living.

Meanwhile, French energy firm EDF said profits before tax, interest and one-off items lifted to £1.12 billion for 2022 in the UK, following a loss of £21 million in the previous year.

Energy firms have seen record earnings since oil and gas prices jumped following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The figures come after British Gas was criticised over its use of debt agents to force-fit prepayment meters in the homes of vulnerable customers.

Centrica’s profits also surpass the company’s previous profit high of £2.7bn, recorded in 2012.

As individuals struggle with growing living costs, the bumper profits are likely to anger campaigners calling for tougher windfall taxes and lower bills.

People have been left asking how much money energy firms are making and whether it’s really justified.

So, who owns the UK’s biggest energy firms, and how much profit are they making?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Who owns British Gas and how much profit does it make? 

British Gas is owned by the company Centrica, which is the largest domestic gas supplier in the UK, and is also one of the largest electricity suppliers.

It was previously publically owned but, in December 1986, Margaret Thatcher privatised it.

Centrica owns British Gas and other energy companies, including Ireland’s Bord Gais Energy, and it has reported a record operating profit of £3.3bn.

Who owns BP and how much profit does it make?

British Petroleum, better known as BP, is a British company founded in 1909.

The top five shareholders of BP are State Street, BlackRock, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fisher Investments, and Menora Mivtachim.

With operations in nearly 80 countries, BP announced it made a quarterly profit of $8.2 billion (£6.6 billion) on November 2022.

Activists from Greenpeace set up a mock petrol station price board displaying Shell's net profit for 2022 (Daniel Leal / AFP via Getty Images)
Activists from Greenpeace set up a mock petrol station price board displaying Shell's net profit for 2022 (Daniel Leal / AFP via Getty Images)

Who owns Shell and how much profit does it make?

Shell is a British-Dutch-owned company, headquartered in the Netherlands, and is incorporated in the United Kingdom. The company, which first sold antiques and seashells, was expanded by the Samuels brothers in the 1880s into an oil-exporting business.

The Samuels brothers achieved a revolution in the transport of oil by using a tanker called the Murex across the Suez Canal to transfer oil.

Shell supplied the British Army with the majority of its fuel during World War I and made all of its ships — including the Murex — available to the British Admiralty.

Recently, Ben van Beurden, who was CEO since January 1, 2014. was replaced by Shell's new CEO, Wael Sawan.

In Sawan’s previous role as the head of Shell’s integrated gas and renewables division, he oversaw Shell’s growth into low-carbon energies, as well as its giant gas business.

Shell reported a record $40 billion (£32.5 billion) profit in 2022, capping a turbulent year in which a rise in energy prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine allowed it to provide shareholders with unheard-of profits.

Who owns Scottish Power and how much profit does it make?

Scottish Power is owned by the Spanish utility firm Iberdrola. The company was originally formed in 1990, in preparation for the privatisation of Scotland’s energy supply the year after, according to Berkshire Live.

In October 2021, Scottish Power reported a 39 per cent decline in underlying profits, at its division responsible for providing energy to domestic customers. It cited rising wholesale costs, as well as low wind volumes, as the key reasons for the drop in profit.

Who owns Southern Water and how much profit does it make?

Southern Water supplies water and sewerage services to customers across the south of England. It loses 88.1 million litres of water per day from the pipes in its network.

Its shareholders took home £622 million in profit between 2013 and 2017. In 2021, Southern Water was sentenced to pay £90 million in fines for widespread pollution after pleading guilty to 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges, according to

Who owns EDF and how much profit does it make?

EDF Energy is owned by the French energy supplier EDF, which is itself owned by the French government.

It made a profit of £1.12 billion in 2022 in the UK, following a loss of £21 million in the previous year.

Luc Remont, chairman and chief executive officer of EDF, said: “The 2022 results were significantly affected by the decline in our electricity output, and also by exceptional regulatory measures introduced in France in difficult market conditions.

“Despite all the challenges, EDF actively focused on service and support for all its residential and business customers, and made every endeavour to ensure the best generation fleet availability for the winter period.”

According to its own figures, it posted a loss of £154 million in 2020.

Who owns E.ON and how much profit does it make?

E.ON is owned by E.ON SE, an electricity supplier based in Essen, Germany. The company was formed in 1989 and was originally known as Powergen, before it was privatised in the 1990s.

The company also owns Npower, which it acquired in December 2018, and was previously owned by German multinational energy firm RWE.

In November 2021, its parent company reported a nine-month adjustment to earnings before interest and tax, of €3.93 billion (£3.29 billion), while its customer solutions arm more than doubled its profits to €910 million (£810.4 m).

Who owns SSE and how much profit does it make?

SSE’s retail business, which provides energy to household customers, was sold to OVO Energy in January 2020.

OVO Energy reported that it had significantly reduced its losses in 2020 to £7 million - down from £103 million the previous year. The company also reported a significant increase in revenues, from £1.5 billion to £4.5 billion.

Who owns Octopus Energy and how much profit does it make?

Octopus Energy is owned by Octopus Group, the fund-management company which founded the energy firm in 2015. Octopus Group has interests in venture capital, investment management, and real estate, as well as the energy sector.

In January, Octopus Energy announced an operating loss of nearly £85 million in 2021, after reporting a loss of almost £50 million in 2020, according to Reuters. However, the firm’s energy-supply revenues increased to £1.9 billion from £1.2 billion the previous year.