Suez sets summer deadline for GDF merger

18th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 17, 2006 (AFP) - French energy and utilities group Suez will abandon its planned merger with state-controlled gas company Gaz de France (GDF) if the deal does not go ahead this summer, the company's head said in an interview due to be published Sunday.

PARIS, June 17, 2006 (AFP) - French energy and utilities group Suez will abandon its planned merger with state-controlled gas company Gaz de France (GDF) if the deal does not go ahead this summer, the company's head said in an interview due to be published Sunday.

"If the project is not begun in an irreversible manner in the summer, I will be obliged to go back without delay to my board of directors to recommend they look for other options in order to protect the future of the group's 160,000 employees," Suez CEO Gerard Mestrallet told the Journal de Dimanche newspaper.

"Several (options) are imaginable without Gaz de France, but none of them would offer France and Belgium the same opportunities as with Gaz de France, nor the same guarantees of secure supplies, of jobs and prices" he added.

"There is no plan B" for Suez's planned absorption of GDF, he said.

Mestrallet's comments followed an announcement on Friday by France's Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin that he would press on with the project, despite strong opposition within his own party.

Villepin was responding to a report in the daily Le Monde that the project to partially privatise GDF, a necessary step before the merger deal could take place, might be shelved.

Neither of the two companies was willing to comment on Saturday evening, but on Friday they had said they still planned a total merger, to which they said there was no realistic alternative.

The government revealed a plan in February for GDF to be absorbed, and therefore privatised, by Suez after it emerged that the Italian energy group Enel was poised to make a hostile bid for Suez.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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