Toshiba deal clears hurdles

Toshiba Corp’s $5.4bn bid to purchase Westinghouse from BNFL has received regulatory clearance in both the USA and the UK, the company has announced. Toshiba reached a deal to buy the company, which includes BNFL USA Group Inc and Westinghouse UK Ltd, in February of this year.

The deal has now been cleared by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the EU Commission and the US Department of Justice. Meanwhile Toshiba, which has been seeking strategic partners to join the bid, has now entered into partnership agreements with the US engineering firm The Shaw Group and with Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) from Japan. Under the terms of these agreements the Shaw Group will take a 20 per cent stake in Westinghouse and IHI a three per cent stake.

Two new companies have been set up by Toshiba to complete the Westinghouse takeover. These are called Toshiba Nuclear Engineering Holdings (US) Inc and Toshiba Nuclear Engineering Holdings (UK) Limited.

Three-way talks over MAN Scania tussle

German truck and diesel engine manufacturer MAN has dropped a hostile $12bn bid for the Swedish manufacturer Scania in order to allow three way talks involving the two companies and Volkswagen to take place. VW is a major shareholder in the two companies, both of which manufacture diesel engines for gensets.

MAN’s original bid for Scania appears to have been a defensive move to try and prevent Scania launching a bid for MAN which would end up with the German company being broken up. VW supported an unsuccessful attempt to buy and break up MAN three years ago.

The three way negotiations are expected to be aimed at setting up some form of alliance between all three, with VW’s Brazilian heavy truck operation part of any final merging of truck interests.

ACS takes stake in Iberdrola

Spanish construction company ACS, which holds a 37.5 per cent stake in the power company Union Fenosa, has acquired a 6.3 per cent holding in Iberdrola, Spain’ second largest electricity company. The stake cost €3.3bn ($4.1bn).

Commentators seem divided about whether the acquisition is a prelude to a merger between Union Fenosa and Iberdrola or a defensive move to block bids from other European groups.

Foster Wheeler licences CFB in China

Foster Wheeler has entered a fifteen year licensing agreement with Wuxi Huaguang Boiler Co (Wuxi) which will allow Wuxi to build subcritical pressure circulating fluidized-bed (CFB) steam generators in China. Under the terms of the deal Wuxi may also manufacture CFB units for projects outside China.

The agreement is between Wuxi and Foster Wheeler subsidiary Foster Wheeler North America Corp. Foster Wheeler and Wuxi have worked together successfully for ten years during which the Chinese company has been a primary subcontractor for project both in China and outside.

French assembly passes GdF Suez-merger bill

The French National Assembly has passed the part of a new energy law crucial to a planned merger of Gaz de France and Suez. Under Article 10 of the law the French government can reduce its stake in Gaz de France from 70 per cent to 34 per cent making it possible for a proposed merger to proceed. The result will be the formation of the second largest gas utility in Europe.

With the European energy sector witnessing unprecedented consolidation according to Datamonitor, the merger of the two French companies is seen as a way of preventing a hostile takeover. There were rumours in late 2004 that the Italian energy company Enel might attempt to buy Suez.

E.ON pursues Endesa with increased bid

The German energy group E.ON has increased its offer for control of the Spanish electricity company Endesa to €37bn ($46bn), valuing the company’s shares at €35 ($44). In February of this year E.ON made a bid for Endesa which valued its shares at €25.40.

The improved deal comes after the European Union called for 19 conditions imposed by the Spanish National Energy Commission on E.ON to be withdrawn. However financial analysts in Germany have suggested that the new offer overvalues the Spanish group.

The situation has been made more complicated by the unexpected purchase by the Spanish construction company Acciona of a ten per cent share of Endesa, valuing the shares at €32. With Spanish companies seeking government help to allow them to protect themselves against hostile bids from abroad, this move has been interpreted by some observers as a move to derail the E.ON bid.

News digest

Acta extends Sumitomo deal: Acta, a company which has developed a platinum-free fuel cell catalyst, has renewed and extended its marketing and distribution agreement with Sumitomo Corp. The Japanese company will now market the catalyst in China as well as Japan and South Korea.

AEI acquires Prisma Energy: AEI has finalized acquisition of Prisma Energy International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enron, for around $2.9bn. The price includes $800m in cash dividends received earlier this year by Enron from Prisma.

Alliant leaves NZ: Alliant Energy Corp. is to sell its interest in Alliant Energy New Zealand Ltd. The wholly-owned subsidiary holds interests in two publicly traded companies in New Zealand, TrustPower Ltd and Infratil Ltd.

Alstom acquires Strongwish: Alstom has signed an agreement for the acquisition of Shenzen Strongwish, a company which specializes in remote monitoring and diagnostic services.

Dupont invests in pV: Dupont is to invest $50m to expand its production plant for Tedlar polyvinyl fluoride film for photovoltaic solar panels. The new facility will be completed in 2007. The company has also launched the PV2100 Series of films for solar panel protection.

KeySpan shareholder approval: The shareholders in the US natural gas distribution and power generation company Keyspan Corp have approved the company’s takeover by National Grid.

SGT-500 in HFO test: The Siemens SGT-500 gas turbine, a 17 MW unit, has been successfully tested burning heavy fuel oil (HFO) and has passed the IF180 HFO test.

Tenaris to sell: Tenaris SA is to sell its 75 per cent interest in Dalmine Energie, and Italian energy supply company, to E.ON for €39m ($50m). The transaction is expected to be completed this year.

US geothermal site: US Geothermal Inc has acquired a new geothermal property with surface rights at Neal Hot Springs, eastern Oregon. The company hopes to develop and initial 25-30 MW plant on the site.

Wartsila Helius deal: Wartsila BioPower and the UK company Helius Energy have signed a co-operation agreement for power and heat plants. Under the deal Helius Energy will develop projects based on Wartsila technology.

Wind cross-licensing: GE Energy’s wind business and the German company REpower Systems have entered into a cross-licensing agreement related to GE’s variable speed technology for wind turbines. The deal includes the use of several patents.

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