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Monday, 6 August, 2001, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Centrica pays 85m for Goldfish data
Goldfish web page
Goldfish: set to take the plunge into e-banking
Gas and home services firm Centrica has agreed a 80m 'divorce' settlement to allow its Goldfish credit card arm to take the plunge into internet banking.

Centrica has agreed to pay credit specialist HFC the cash to ensure the handover of customer details, and end a court battle which threatened to delay severely the Goldfish expansion plans.

While the cash comes on top of a 650m Centrica had already agreed to pay to take back full control of the Goldfish operation, which HFC has helped run since 1996, the utility giant highlighted the wisdom of the deal.

"This is a fair price in the context of the lengthy litigation process we would have faced," a Centrica spokesman said.

"This puts our strategy back on track."

High Street bank Lloyds TSB, Centrica's partner in the scheme to take Goldfish into e-banking, was widely seen as likely to to pull out the deal if a solution to the HFC dispute was not found.

Key data

The dispute with HFC, which owns the Marbles credit card brand, centred over a databank it has built up on the 1 million Goldfish customers.

While Centrica claimed ownership of the information, deemed vital for taking Goldfish into e-banking, HFC, which had a year left to run on its contract with Centrica, declined the hand the details over.

The High Court in June sided with HFC.

Following Monday's settlement, HFC and Centrica will work together to achieve "an orderly transfer" of assets, a statement said.

The agreement is thought likely to save Centrica's deal with Lloyds, which has proposed using infrastructure developed for its Evolvebank.com brand to take Goldfish into e-banking.

But investors baulked at the size of Centrica's payment.

Shares in the utility giant fell to a nine-month low on Monday, before closing down 3p at 222p.

See also:

03 Jul 01 | Business
British Gas owner buys phone firm
29 Jun 01 | Business
Goldfish e-bank hopes dampened
10 May 01 | Business
BG profits rise sharply
05 Mar 01 | Business
AA pays 20m in copyright dispute
13 Dec 00 | Business
Goldfish takes plunge into banking
02 Oct 00 | Business
Consumers shy away from e-banking
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