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Britain's Centrica posts 2020 loss, no dividend

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Britain’s Centrica posts 2020 loss, no dividend 1

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain's largest energy supplier Centrica reported on Thursday a 362 million pound ($512 million) loss from continuing operations for 2020, hit by the coronavirus pandemic, warmer weather and weaker commodity prices.

The British Gas owner said it would not propose a full-year dividend for 2020 and would "recommence dividends to shareholders when it is prudent to do so".

The loss was less than the 783 million pound loss from continuing operations posted for 2019.

The company said its restructuring plan announced last year was on track.

The plan is expected to lead to a total reduction of around 5,000 roles across the group when compared with the start of 2020, with around 1,000 expected to come from its North American business Direct Energy, which it has sold.

This year has seen industrial action from a portion of British Gas' services engineer staff over terms and conditions.

Centrica said over 80% of staff had accepted new terms and the firm had "contingency plans" in place to cope with reduced staffing levels from the strikes.

A four-day strike by British Gas' GMB union members is due to start on Friday, the union said in a statement.

In 2018, Centrica said it wanted to divest its 20% interest in the UK operating nuclear power fleet.

"We continue to consider options for a sale, however the divestment process is currently paused given operational issues on a number of the power stations," the firm said.

Centrica said it had brought forward by five years – to 2045 – a commitment to reach net zero emissions and it intended to set out a longer-term strategy in the second half of this year.

($1 = 0.7067 pounds)

(Reporting By Susanna Twidale and Nina Chestney; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Potter)

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