French utilities to 'dismantle' Belgian monopoly

28th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2006, BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt expects the utilities group that emerges from the merger of Suez and Gaz de France (GdF) will dismantle its monopolistic position in Belgium.

28 February 2006

BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt expects the utilities group that emerges from the merger of Suez and Gaz de France (GdF) will dismantle its monopolistic position in Belgium.

The controversial merger of the two French power companies means two Belgian electricity firms, Electrabel and SPE, will be owned by one corporation.

Suez almost has a 100 percent stake in Electrabel, and GdF — in a joint venture with British company Centrica — has a 51 percent stake in SPE.
 
Flemish Energy Minister Kris Peeters has said the monopolistic position of Suez-GdF is "alarming", while consumer watchdog Test-Aankoop has called it "unacceptable".
 
Verhofstadt will meet with company executives next week and maintaining competition in electricity and gas supply in Belgium will definitely be on the agenda, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Tuesday.
 
The prime minister's spokesman said Verhofstadt expects the merged company will dismantle its monopolistic position in Belgium. It is widely expected that GdF will sell its stake in SPE.

Meanwhile, Belgian national Etienne Davignon — a member of Suez' board of directors — stressed that the merger will not lead to higher prices for consumers.

"And nothing will change with the production of electricity in Belgium," he said.

Davignon also said the Belgian government had given its preference for a merger of Suez with GdF over a takeover of Suez by the Italian utilities firm Enel.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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