Iberdrola fires fourth legal shot across EDF's bows

19th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Claims French pretender received illegal state aid

19 March 2008

MADRID - Spanish electricity company Iberdrola on Tuesday fired another legal salvo at predator Électricité de France (EDF), claiming the state-owned French power giant had received illegal subsidies from the government.

In a complaint filed with the European Commission, Iberdrola alleged EDF had saved over EUR 5 billion in the transfer of control of EDF workers' pension system to the company. The Spanish firm claimed this breached Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty on state aid. The French government controls 84.9 percent of EDF.

Yesterday's was the fourth legal action taken by Iberdrola against EDF since the French company in February expressed interest in Iberdrola and the Spanish energy market, where demand for power has been boosted by the strength of the economy and a wave of immigration. EDF has also held preliminary talks with Iberdrola shareholder ACS.

Taking the view that defence was the best form of attack, Iberdrola last month presented a complaint before the EC alleging that the state's protection of EDF violated EU law.

Iberdrola has also claimed interested-party status in a probe launched by Brussels into possible abuse of dominant position by EDF.

For a man noted for his undemonstrative approach, Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Sánchez Galán last month launched a spirited rebuff of EDF's pretensions. "EDF is not welcome," he said. "This has been made clear from a political, social, labour, territorial and shareholder point of view."

He also had strong words for leading Spanish builder ACS, which he described more as a competitor than a shareholder. ACS controls Iberdrola rival Unión Fenosa.

[Copyright El Pais / ADRIAN SOTO 2008]

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