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New plan to re-unite gas brands

Centrica boss offers £1 for overseas rights to British Gas name

British GasCentrica is understood to be considering another tilt on acquiring the worldwide rights to the British Gas name following Shell’s acquisition of BG Group.

New boss Iain Conn is preparing to buy the title for as little as £1, according to a report this morning. That would be a marked difference to the “nine-figure” sum the company was quoted when it made a similar move in 2009.

The opportunity to buy the name has emerged from Royal Dutch Shell’s £47 billion takeover bid for BG Group.

Uniting the gas brands would help Centrica’s marketing of British Gas overseas. When British Gas and BG were demerged in 1997 BG retained the right to use the British Gas name outside the UK. Centrica can only use it within the UK. This causes confusion among Centrica’s overseas clients.

Centrica later offered to buy the British Gas brand from BG but was put off by after being quoted what was described as a “nine-figure sum”.

BG, on the other hand, could have acquired the UK rights to the British Gas name if Centrica had been the subject of a takeover.

Other international companies have suffered from this dual identity, notably Hilton Hotels which operated for years as two separate businesses, one in the US and the other outside the US.

In 1997, to minimise longtime consumer confusion, the American and British Hilton companies adopted a joint marketing agreement under which they shared the same logos, promoted each other’s brands and maintained joint reservation systems.

In 2005 Hilton Hotels Corporation agreed to re-acquire the Hilton International chain from its British owner.

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