Gas Natural dismisses talk of merger with Iberdrola
The gas company wants to concentrate on expanding its current business, says chairman.22 May 2008
MADRID - Gas Natural insisted on Wednesday that it was concentrating on growing its current business and was not looking to merge with rival Spanish power company Iberdrola or anyone else.
Speculation of a possible tie-up between Iberdrola, the second-largest electricity supplier in Spain, and Gas Natural, the country's biggest gas distributor, has been rife since Electricité de France (EDF) said at the start of this year it was interested in entering the Spanish energy sector.
EDF had specifically mentioned Iberdrola, which has vehemently rejected any advance by the French power giant.
"Gas Natural has not spoken with Iberdrola about a merger," Chairman Salvador Gabarró told a news conference ahead of the gas company's annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday. "We are very focused at the moment on our business plan for 2008-2012, and we are not considering or studying any merger and acquisition move."
That investment plan, however, calls for relatively small acquisitions of gas distributors in Italy. The plan also involves investment spending of EUR 12.5 billion.
Gabarró said Gas Natural was worth double its current market capitalisation of EUR 17 billion. "If we put it up for sale, we would need to have security guards to control the people lined up" to buy it, he said.
[El Pais / Adrián Soto / Expatica]