France's EDF Suez quits Polish power firm race: union

1st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

French power giant EDF has walked out of talks to buy a 51-percent stake in Polish state-controlled energy company Enea, a union official said Friday.

"I have received the information that EDF has pulled out of the negotiations, because it was unable to accept the conditions set by the treasury ministry," Kazimierz Grajcarek, head of the energy-sector chapter of the Polish union Solidarity, told AFP.

He did not elaborate.

The treasury ministry declined to confirm the news, and no comment could be obtained immediately from EDF.

In December, the treasury granted EDF exclusive rights to negotiate the purchase of the controlling stake in Enea, which ranks third on Poland's energy market.

Enea's privatisation has proven a complex saga.

EDF had pulled out out the race last October, and Warsaw also nixed a bid by France's GDF Suez.

In November, however, GDF Suez was invited back to the table in parallel with Poland's Kulczyk Holding, before both sets of talks fizzled out and EDF stepped in again.

The treasury controls 60.43 percent of Enea, after having floated a 16.05 percent holding on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in 2010.

Swedish energy group Vattenfall owns 18.7 percent, bought in 2008.

Enea claims 16 percent of the country's power market, covering 2.3 million homes over a fifth of the territory of Poland, a nation of 38 million people.

The Enea sale is expected to make the state between 4.6 and 6.0 billion zloty (1.14-1.48 billion euros, 1.6-2.1 billion dollars).

Polish unions have contested plans to sell Enea to EDF on the grounds that the latter is controlled by the French state.

They argue that with EDF and GDF Suez already having investment in other parts of the Polish power sector, an Enea takeover would give France too much clout here.

© 2011 AFP

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