Amerada Hess launches Woolwich tie-in ahead of sell-off by US parent

Utility company Amerada Hess has teamed up with Woolwich to sell gas and electricity to the bank’s customers from next month. The joint venture, called Woolwich-Amerada Gas and Electricity, has puzzled the industry, which has been waiting for the sale of the utility company since last year.

Amerada Hess US-based parent company, Amerada Hess Corporation, decided to sell its UK gas and electricity business in order to concentrate on its core exploration and production interests. Amerada Hess has only 400,000 gas and electricity customers.

The tie-in with Woolwich is seen by industry insiders as a final, desperate bid to acquire more customers and make Amerada more attractive to potential bidders.

The Woolwich-Amerada venture will be trial-marketed to a “section of Woolwich customers”. No plans are in place to market or advertise the alliance generally.

Amerada Hess head of marketing Jenny Brownlee says: “Though the company has been put up for sale by the parent company, it is business as usual in the UK. The partnership with Woolwich will be test-marketed to begin with, and will give Woolwich an opportunity to offer added-value services to its customers.”

Last year, rival utility company Scottish Power announced a similar partnership with Sainsbury’s, called Sainsbury’s Energy (MW October 25, 2001). The deal involves Scottish Power supplying gas and electricity, while the supermarket giant provides customer services, including billing.

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