Global 500 rank: 218 (Previous rank: 238)
2006 loss: $285 million
Britain's largest natural gas-based electric utility enjoyed a near monopoly for many years. But when a new natural gas pipeline from Norway and Holland to Britain opened last year, competitors swooped in to sell gas to consumers. The upswing in supply, combined with an unusually warm autumn, saw gas prices fall and Centrica's profits collapse.
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