Areva leads Repower race

French nuclear energy firm Areva has raised its bid for Repower to €140 ($186) per share, beating India’s Suzlon Energy’s bid and securing a 30 per cent stake in the German wind turbine maker. Suzlon Energy and Martifer, a unit of Portugal’s Mota Engil, had offered €126 per share, topping Areva’s bid of €105.

State-controlled Areva has previously come in for criticism from the French finance minister Thierry Breton, who suggested that the bid should be reconsidered as, in his view, the price had been driven excessively high.

He said: “We must avoid making the same mistakes as with the internet, when acquisitions were badly managed and extremely expensive.”

Repower’s supervisory and executive boards have recommended that shareholders accept the Suzlon offer having earlier backed the Areva bid. Suzlon’s management is reported to be evaluating the situation and no decision about revising its bid has been taken.

Enel and Endesa endeavours endangers Eon’s efforts

Italian power utility Enel has raised its stake in Spanish Electricity company Endesa to 24.99 per cent, the maximum permitted without triggering a mandatory bid for the whole of Endesa under Spanish law.

The move is widely seen as a blocking tactic to prevent the acquisition of Endesa by German utility Eon, which has tabled a $41bn bid for the company. Enel raised its stake in Endesa through a share swap deal with merchant bank Mediobanca, which gave it a further 2.98 per cent, taking its share ownership to just under 25 per cent. Enel’s chief executive Fulvio Conti has described the move as “friendly,” but analysts suggested it was a political move aimed at blocking Eon’s bid.

Both the Italian and Spanish governments have strongly denied that they encouraged Enel to buy a stake in Endesa.

ABB earnings rise by 45 per cent

Swiss-based power equipment and automation firm ABB has reported earnings before tax up 45 per cent to a record $2.6bn for 2006, continuing its recovery following four years of heavy losses between 2001-04.

Revenues for 2006 reached $24.4bn, an increase of 11 per cent, while backorders were 22 per cent higher at $28.4bn. ABB said strong profits were due to growing revenues, higher capacity utilization, and further cost reductions.

“We have the right technology and market positions to take advantage of the growing global demand for reliable power and higher industrial efficiency,” said Fred Kindle, ABB president and CEO.

ABB expects the positive business environment to continue throughout 2007, with high demand for transmission and distribution infrastructure in Asia, the Middle East and the Americas, plus equipment replacement in Europe.

AGL Energy scraps merger with Origin

AGL Energy, Australia’s largest power and gas retailer has officially ended its pursuit of a A$14bn ($10.8bn) merger with rival Origin Energy.

“AGL put a very attractive merger of equals proposal to Origin on an exchange ratio which would have had the potential to deliver a very significant increase in earnings per share for Origin’s shareholders,” said Paul Anthony, AGL CEO. Anthony went on to say that a merger based on current market prices would not be attractive to AGL’s shareholders.

Origin rejected the deal in late February, on the grounds that it would strip value from Origin. Analysts believe a successful takeover bid would have to offer a premium of 20 per cent.

AGL has around 3.6m customers in Australia, while Origin serves about 2m customers in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

Alstom secures Calpine subsidiary

Alstom has signed a deal with Calpine Corporation to acquire is Power Systems Manufacturing (PSM) subsidiary in a cash deal worth $225m.

The Florida-based firm is an independent supplier of gas turbine parts and low-NOx upgrade solutions for gas turbines. Alstom said that the activities of PSM would be part of its Power Service Sector and that it would extend its technology leadership in providing customers with gas turbine upgrades and low-emission solutions in after-market sales.

Calpine said it would continue to purchase, on a preferential basis from PSM, turbine parts to be used in certain of Calpines’ combustion gas turbines throughout the company’s fleet.

HgCapital makes biogas investment

Major European renewable investor HgCapital has made an investment in biogas projects through Aufwind Schmack GmbH Neue Energien.

Aufwind Achmack, based in Regensburg, Germany, is the world’s leading biogas project developer and is also an active developer of wind farms in central Europe.

As part of the deal HgCapital will provide in excess of €50m ($67m) in expansion capital and project equity, allowing Aufwind to accelerate its project development activities.

HgCapital has committed over €1.3bn to fund future renewable power projects.

News digest

ACON grows: An investor group led by ACON Investments, in partnership with former managers of ABB have announced the acquisition of ABB’s Power Lines Components manufacturing businesses in Monterrey, Mexico and Belo Horizonte, Brazil, producers of steel lattice towers.

Argentina arrangement: CMS Energy subsidiary CMS Enterprises has sold its 17.2 per cent interest in its El Chocon hydroelectric generating business to Endesa for $50m.

Sulzer rejected: Metallurgical and materials testing firm Bodycote has rejected the latest proposed cash offer by machinery and equipment manufacturing company Sulzer. Bodycote believes that the £3.25 ($6.38) per share bid significantly undervalues the company.

Electrabel energy group: The Suez Group is to regroup all its energy sector activities, including electricity and gas operation, engineering and network businesses, within its Belgian company Electrabel, including those of its other Belgian company Tractebel.

HTS collaboration: Zenergy Power has entered into a five-year co-operation agreement with Converteam to exclusively supply its high temperature superconductor (HTS) wires and coils in relation to wind power and small hydropower projects.

Mitsubishi in Singapore: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) plans to set up a regional headquarters in Singapore this spring to oversee its overseas engine business. MHI is looking to expand after-sales servicing operations for medium and large-sized engines in Asia in response to strong market demand.

PPL Latin auction: PPL Corporation is to sell its regulated electricity delivery operations in Chile, El Salvador and Bolivia through an auction process over the coming months. The operations to be sold account for around five per cent of PPL’s annual earnings.

Senior moment: Clyde Bergemann Power Group has acquired Senior Thermal Engineering Australia, specialists in extended heat transfer products and solutions and ‘H’ finned tube design. The Sydney-based company will be called Clyde Bergemann Senior Thermal Pty Ltd.

Siemens see sensor: Siemens Power Generation and Zolo Technologies have signed an agreement to incorporate the ZoloBOSS combustion optimization sensor system in its coal fired power plants in order to reduce emissions and boost efficiency.

Wire checkers grow: USA power line inspection and maintenance firm Haverfield Corporation has purchased AgRotors powerline assets, adding to its helicopter fleet and staff of pilots and linesmen.