TEPCO's retail arm ordered to suspend some activities for mis-selling

TOKYO, June 25 (Reuters) - Japan’s consumer affairs agency on Friday ordered the retail arm of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings to suspend some of its operations for six months for breaking the law in its efforts to sell electricity and gas.

TEPCO Energy Partner breached the law by not telling potential customers the purpose of its calls and by claiming its annual retail prices for electricity and gas combined would be 1,200 yen lower than rivals when that was not the case, an official at the agency said.

Some operations such as telephone calls to solict new customers will be suspended through Dec. 25, he added.

“We will take appropriate action in response to the order and will enhance the measures to prevent recurrence,” TEPCO Energy Partner said in a statement.

Competition among utilities in Japan has intensified after the liberalisation of the 8 trillion yen ($72 billion) retail power market in 2016, followed by the opening of the $20 billion retail city gas market in 2017.

There have been a few cases where power retailers have faced administrative penalties since 2016, but this is the first time the unit of a former regional power monopoly has been subject to such actions, the agency official said.

$1 = 110.6800 yen Reporting by Yuka Obayashi Editing by Mark Potter