By Scott Wright

ENERGY giant SSE has declared it can give even greater focus to helping the UK meet its carbon reduction targets after the sale of its retail division was approved by regulators.

The Competition and Markets Authority gave the nod yesterday to the £500 million acquisition of SSE Energy Services by Ovo Group, the rapidly-growing energy challenger.

The watchdog had launched a probe in October to examine whether the tie-up, first announced in September, would lead to a substantial lessening of competition. But the CMA cleared the deal yesterday.

The acquisition transforms Ovo into the second-largest supplier of energy to UK households, adding around 3.5 million customers to its 1.5 million and giving it a market share of 15 per cent. Ovo had earlier acquired the energy supply subsidiary of Borders-based Spark Energy, boosting its customer base by 290,000.

Ovo will add 8,000 staff, including 2,700 north of the Border, to its payroll as a result of the SSE deal.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of Perth-based SSE, said the sale “underlines our long-held belief that a dedicated, focused and independent retailer will ultimately best serve customers, employees and other stakeholders. With the required regulatory approvals now in place, we can make the final preparations for completion, expected around mid-January 2020.

“Completion of the transaction will give SSE plc even sharper focus to delivering the low carbon infrastructure needed to help the UK reach net zero emissions. We have a clear strategy around developing, operating and owning renewable energy and electricity network assets, along with growing businesses complementary to this core.”

Stephen Fitzpatrick, chief executive Ovo, said: “We’re delighted with the CMA’s decision and look forward to bringing SSE into the Ovo family. There is a lot of work to be done, but we’re excited about the challenge ahead and the opportunity to help even more customers on the journey to zero carbon.”