Mr Bowman told the Independent newspaper that PPM Energy risked becoming something of an orphan given that the Scottish firm was in the process of selling off its other US business, the much larger PacifiCorp, to Berkshire Hathaway in a GBP5 billion deal.

Mr Bowman, who has only been in the post for a matter of weeks, also acknowledged that ScottishPower would contemplate buying upstream gas assets in the North Sea if the opportunity arose. Such a move would be a logical step given the soaring price of wholesale gas and growing worries about the security of gas supplies from abroad.

I don’t rule it out as a possibility. When you sit in the trading rooms and you see the volatility in price you say to yourself: if this is the world we are going to live in then maybe it is time to dust off the analysis, he told the newspaper.

Mr Bowman was formerly CEO at drinks group Allied Domecq until it was bought by rival Pernod Ricard. His appointment at the helm of Glasgow-based ScottishPower was interpreted by many as a sign that the company would also be bought out, having already rebuffed a takeover approach from E.ON in autumn 2005.