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Govts' resistance hinders energy liberalization in Europe

Luni, 27 februarie 2006, 0:00

The European states tend to be more protective with their national energy companies. France aims at creating a national energy leader despite accusations of protectionism related to the support granted to the merger of Gaz de France with Suez, according to Irish Finfacts.

Italy's Enel had announced its intentions to buy Suez's Electrabel unit February 21. The French govt encouraged the Suez and Gaz de France merger in order to repel Enel.

Suez SA and Gaz de France SA agreed Sunday to a 33.3 billion-euro ($39 billion) government-brokered merger that will create the world's second-largest utility.

The Russian-Ukrainian row which affected the gas delivery for the whole Europe brought the energetic issue to the EU agenda.

European Union pressure to open national energy markets to competition have prompted a wave of cross-border takeovers and bids, and spurred governments to seek to create companies big enough to survive writes Bloomberg. Hence, the German power utility E.ON AG offered 29.1 billion euros in cash for Spain's Endesa SA, Feb 21.

The Spanish Govt showed reluctance to the German bid and announced it would expand the law framework to allow the Spanish companies to vote against the E.ON offer, writes Reuters.

Previous to the E.ON bid, the Spanish Gas Natural had more chances to overtake Endesa, bidding 23.4 bln euros. The Spanish offer might rise under the circumstances, especially in the view of the Spanish PM’s interest to keep the "strategic" energy company.

The French PM Dominique de Villepin promised that the Government will take all necessary measures to legally allow the merger between the two French companies.

Currently, the state holds over 80% of Gaz de France and the law forbids the reduction of the ownership to less than 70 per cent, which will be the case in the light of the merger. The Finance minister, Thierry Breton, said the state will hold less than 40 % of the enlarged company.

According to a press release of the two companies, the merger will yield a 64 bln euro turnover. The merger between the two companies will create a European leader in gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) with a strong Franco-Belgian identity.

According to Bloomberg, this is the top World's Biggest Utility Companies by Market Value (Table):

Company Market Cap Country
USD Bln.

1. Electricite de France SA 95 France
2. E.ON AG 77 Germany
3. Enel SpA 52 Italy
4. Suez SA 51 France
5. RWE AG 48 Germany
6. Exelon Corp. 38 U.S.
7. Endesa SA 35 Spain
8. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc. 34 Japan
9. Gaz de France SA 34 France
10. Iberdrola SA 29 Spain
11. RAO Unified Energy Systems 29 Russia
12. National Grid Plc 27 U.K.
13. Korea Electric Power Corp. 27 Korea
14. Duke Energy Corp. 26 U.S.
15. Dominion Resources Inc. 25 U.S.
16. Southern Co. 25 U.S.
17. TXU Corp. 23 U.S.
18. Veolia Environnement 21 France

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