COMPANIES

Share price plunge forces Denmark to delay Dong flotation for third time

The Danish government has postponed the flotation of Dong Energy for the third time, citing the poor condition of global equity markets.

This meams that Copenhagen has stalled the launched of what would have been Denmark’s second-largest IPO. The plan was to sell 28 per cent of the company, with the stake valued by analysts at about Dk18bn ($3.5bn).

However, Denmark’s benchmark OMXC20 index has dropped significantly since then. Peter Brixen, head of state-owned enterprises at the Ministry of Finance, said that even defensive utility stocks had started to suffer.

He added that, under these circumstances, the ministry could not be certain it would get fair value for the shares.

Dong had to delay its IPO plans first because of a European Commission competition inquiry in 2006 and then because of last autumn’s snap general election.

The state had planned to float 22 per cent of its stake in Dong, while regional power companies would have sold a six per cent stake.

Carbon permits auction could cost Drax its independence as a generator: report

Drax, operator of Europe’s biggest coal-fired power plant, is facing a crippling increase in operating costs after the European Union decided to begin auctioning carbon emission permits rather than giving them away, according to The Independent.

The newspaper said that the expected rise in the cost of carbon allowances, as envisaged by the EU’s climate change draft directives unveiled on 23 January, will force the UK’s biggest polluter to drastically reduce its generation activity to just 40 per cent, and that it ultimately will be picked off by a larger rival better suited to operate within a new energy order.

Ireland’s Airtricity sells for $2.7bn

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has bought Airtricity in a $2.7bn deal, which makes SSE the biggest wind farm company in the UK.

The principal assets of Airtricity that SSE will acquire comprise a 308 MW portfolio of operating onshore wind farms in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The assets also include a 50 per cent stake in the 504 MW offshore wind farm at Greater Gabbard off East Anglia.

SSE also gains a 288 MW offshore wind farm in Germany that has full consent; the 483 MW onshore wind farm proposed for Clyde in southern Scotland; a 1434 MW portfolio of other onshore wind energy projects in the UK and Ireland in development; and an option to participate in a 350 MW offshore wind farm in Ireland.

Further to those is the handing over of a 1222 MW portfolio in Portugal and the Netherlands.

Ofgem: No evidence for big six secret meetings

There is “no evidence” that the UK’s ‘big six’ energy providers are operating a secret cartel to keep gas and electricity prices falsely high, the industry watchdog Ofgem said.

Alistair Buchanan, chief executive at Ofgem, denied that a “smoke-filled room deal” is being struck by the “large players” in the energy industry. However, should evidence prove otherwise, he added that Ofgem would “take it very seriously indeed”.

Three of the big six firms, RWE npower, ScottishPower and EDF Energy, have recently hiked their gas and electricity prices by over 10 per cent and analysts believe that the others, including British Gas, will soon follow.

A recent report in The Sunday Times claimed that the energy giants regularly met in secret in order to collude on pricing à‚— severely damaging competitiveness in the industry.

GE signs wind turbine pact with Invenergy

Atlanta, USA based GE Energy has inked a $1bn deal with wind farm operator Invenergy.

The deal between GE Energy, the energy arm of engineering conglomerate GE, and Invenergy LLC is one of the largest deals in the history of the wind sector. GE Energy will supply Invenergy with 600 MW of its 1.5 MW wind turbines for projects in the United States, and 200 MW of its 2.5 XL wind turbines for European applications.

The turbines, set to provide enough power for 275 000 homes, are scheduled to be shipped during 2009 and be operational by 2010.

EDF and ACS in joint Iberdrola bid talks

EDF, the French electricity group, and ACS, Spain’s largest construction group, are in preliminary talks over a joint bid for Spain’s largest utility, Iberdrola, politicians and investment bankers said, according to the Financial Times.

Both EDF and ACS, which owns 7.7 per cent of Iberdrola, declined to comment.

The paper reported that people familiar with the matter have said ACS and EDF would carve up Iberdrola between them. EDF would keep Scottish Power and a 5-10 per cent share of the Spanish electricity markets.

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Search for solar: Google has invested $10m into eSolar, a Californian company specialising in solar thermal energy, as part of its pledge to use some of its profits to “develop renewable energy cheaper than coal”.

The nuclear option: Sweden’s Vattenfall has appointed Per-Olof Waessman to the newly established function as chief nuclear officer.

Hungry for success: Hungarian oil company MOL has sold seven per cent of its shares to Czech utility CEZ as part of a strategic alliance that will involve the construction of two 800 MW combined-cycle plants at MOL’s refineries in Hungary.

Raising the stakes: BKW FMB Energy Limited (BKW) is to expand its presence in Germany and is to acquire a minority interest in a planned coal fired power plant of Electrabel Deutschland AG. BKW is acquiring a 33 per cent share in a 720 MW coal fired power plant to be operated by Electrabel in Northern Germany.

Wafer thin: China’s LDK Solar has agreed to a 10-year solar wafers supply deal with Taiwanese solar cell maker Neo Solar Power Corp.

Swedes for sale: German energy group E.ON has plans to invest SEK90bn($14bn) in energy production in Sweden over the next few years. E.ON is also planning to acquire Norwegian group Stakraft’s 44.6 per cent stake in E.ON Sweden and finalize the deal by mid-2008.

California dreamin’: SunPower and GE Energy Financial Services are partnering to build solar power installations generating eight MW in California by the end of 2008. The five projects include what could become the nation’s largest solar panel installation on one roof, capable of 2.3 MW, at Toyota Motor Sales’ Parts Center.

Not drowning, waving: Fortum is to invest approximately g0.6m ($0.89m) in the research and development of Swedish wave power, acquiring a share in the Islandsberg wave power test site.

Turning Japanese: Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited has signed an agreement with Paloma Industries Limited of Japan to develop fuel cell micro-combined heat and power (CHP) products for the Japanese residential market.

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