Energy watchdog green light to Suez on Gas Natural

17th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

17 October 2007 , MADRID -(AFP) - Spain's energy regulator CNE gave French energy and utility group the green light to raise its stake in leading Spanish gas supplier Gas Natural to 11.4 percent from just over 10 percent.

17 October 2007

MADRID -(AFP) - Spain's energy regulator CNE gave French energy and utility group the green light to raise its stake in leading Spanish gas supplier Gas Natural to 11.4 percent from just over 10 percent.

But the regulator reserved the right to revise the authorization if the merger between Suez and Gaz de France is successfully completed.

The merger would create a new firm, GDF Suez, which would be one of the world's largest utility groups that would compete with Gas Natural.

Suez is also required to inform the regulator about any changes which its increased stake will have in terms of its influence in Gas Natural, especially when it comes to board representation, the CNE said in a statement.

If Suez acquires "significant influence" in Gas Natural through its increased stake, the French firm must maintain investments planned for 2007-2012 for the gas and electricity transport sector, it added.

Suez has said it is interested in the Spanish market but has no plans to raise its stake in Gas Natural further and is not planning any hostile move.

But the assurances have not calmed jitters in some quarters in Spain that Europe's emerging new energy player may be eyeing its national energy assets.

Repsol, Spain's biggest oil firm and which holds about 31 percent of Gas Natural, had lodged a complaint with CNE over Suez's plans to raise its stake.

After long-deadlocked negotiations, Suez and Gaz de France announced in early September their merger to form the world's fourth biggest energy utility by market capitalisation. The two firms aim to merge in the first half of 2008.

Suez currently employs 140,000 people worldwide, while Gaz de France has a workforce of about 53,000.

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Subject: Spanish news

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