Centrica-owned UK utility British Gas has appointed a new managing director for its residential and business divisions.

Phil Bentley, currently group finance director and managing director for Europe, will take on the leadership of the group’s UK energy downstream businesses as managing director of British Gas (Residential and Business).

Mr Bentley will succeed Mark Clare, whose departure was announced in June 2006. Mr Bentley will assume his new role after the release of the company’s preliminary results for 2006, which will come in February 2007.

In the interim British Gas (Residential and Business) will report directly to Sam Laidlaw. The company’s board has commenced a search for a new finance director and said that it will consider both internal and external candidates.

In addition, Jake Ulrich, managing director of Centrica Energy will take on responsibility for business development in continental Europe, and P&L accountability for the group’s existing European businesses, in addition to his existing upstream portfolio. The European businesses previously reported to Mr Bentley.