The shareholders of First Utility, the UK’s largest independent energy and broadband provider, today agreed to sell the business to Shell. The deal is subject to regulatory and other approvals and is expected to complete in early 2018.

The sale will allow First Utility to accelerate growth and develop new innovative customer propositions taking advantage of Shell’s breadth of energy investments, from renewables to electric vehicle charging.

Darren Braham, Co-founder and CFO, First Utility said: “Shell has been our strategic trading partner for a number of years and we are excited about the extra value and propositions we can deliver to customers as a result of this sale. First Utility has brought significant disruption and competition to the energy market and this move will help us to capitalise on all the opportunities provided by digitalisation, decarbonisation and the move to battery technology and electric vehicles.”

“Shell is the ideal business to acquire us. They have an excellent understanding of the business and our people and share our enthusiasm for the opportunities to help customers take even greater control of their household services.”

First Utility has become the largest challenger to the Big Six energy providers thanks to a focus on lowering customer bills through cheaper tariffs, connected home technology and campaigning for a fairer energy market. It has tirelessly challenged the energy market status quo, as well as championing policy interventions such as faster switching and the introduction of the safeguard price cap to protect vulnerable customers.

First Utility will operate as a stand alone entity and wholly owned subsidiary of Shell within its New Energies division.

Commenting on the deal Stephen Murray, energy expert at MoneySuperMarket “First Utility and Shell have a relationship that stretches back to 2013, and it is encouraging to see the oil company deepening its involvement in the domestic energy market. First Utility should now be able to strengthen its position as an alternative to the Big Six suppliers, which is especially important given that two of them – SSE and nPower – are planning to merge next year. We need strong energy providers that have genuine ability to negotiate in the open market and deliver great deals for consumers. Competition is key to an efficient market and provides consumers with more choice to switch and save.”