OVO must account for £40m transferred to owner Stephen Fitzpatrick’s other firms
- Monday 24 January 2022
OVO Energy must ‘open the books’ and explain why £40m in loans and payments have been made to other companies owned by Stephen Fitzpatrick before it makes 2,000 staff redundant, Unite said today (Monday 24 January 2022).
Unite research shows nearly £20 million from OVO has been loaned to a number of companies owned by Stephen Fitzpatrick, while £21 million has been paid out to Imagination Industries, OVO’s parent company for ‘brand royalty fees’.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Unite’s preliminary research shows there are a lot of questions that need answering about OVO’s accounts. At the very least there should not be a penny more of taxpayers’ money spent on OVO until they provide answers.
“Unite has been proved right all along for demanding OVO open the books when the company is threatening to make up to 2,000 workers redundant.”
OVO - created in 2007 when the energy market in the UK was diversified – recently announced a plan to make between 1,700 and 2,000 staff redundant to cut costs.
Pete Wishart MP, whose constituents will be impacted by the closure of OVO’s Perth office, said Unite’s research raises ‘serious concern’.
Pete Wishart said: “There is more than enough in the Unite research to raise serious concern about OVO’s accounts. OVO needs to be transparent about its books when one in four jobs face the axe. OVO simply cannot ignore this. I intend to raise questions in the House.”
Early in 2020, OVO took over the retail base of energy giant SSE. That transformed OVO’s annual turnover by £3 billion, from £1.45 billion to £4.46 billion. Unite warned, at the time, that the move was a huge risk which could jeopardise OVO’s future.
In the last five years Unite estimates that the top directors of OVO took £4.6 million out of the company in salaries and benefits. Not named in the accounts, but the best paid director, likely to be Stephen Fitzpatrick, earned almost half that figure.
Unite national officer Simon Coop said: “To me it’s a simple enough question. There’s enough concern about the movements of money, as union research shows, so why don’t OVO come clean and open the books? What have they got to hide?”
Notes to editors:
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.