Brussels could veto Alstom rescue package

The European Commission has warned the French government that it will face a probe if it goes ahead with plans for a g300m ($327m) bail-out of Alstom, the troubled engineering group.

The French government is planning to subscribe to half a of the g600m capital increase later this year.

The government acted after Alstom’s chief executive Patrick Kron threatened to put the company into bankruptcy in the face of a g4.9bn debt crisis but the Commission has insisted that France comply with EU law over state aid.

In order to reduce debt, Alstom sold its industrial turbines business to Siemens for g1.1bn in April. Alstom’s board has now agreed to sell its profitable transmission and distribution division which state-owned nuclear industry group, Areva is expected to acquire, although cable firm Nexans has also expressed interest.

Meanwhile, Pierre Bilger, who created Alstom in 1998 through the merger of GEC’s and Alcatel’s power and transport interests, has been forced to return the g4.1m “golden parachute” he received after quitting the group in March.

News digest

B & V forms GPM unit: Black & Veatch has created a new business unit, Generation Portfolio Management, to provide comprehensive solutions to help clients maximise the benefits of generation asset ownership in the US market.

ComAp joins AMPS: ComAp Limited, which designs and manufactures modular engine control systems and relay protection devices, has become a member of the Association of Manufacturers of Power Generating Systems.

EdF downgraded: Concerns over Electricité de France’s g50bn pension deficit saw Standard & Poor’s cut its long-term corporate credit rating on the energy group from AA to AA- ahead of planned privatization.

EnBW losses: Write-downs and risk provisions were to blame for a pre-tax loss of around g1.1bn for the first six months of 2003 at EnBW. The company said that these inherited problems would not affect operation in its core energy business going forward.

ENER-G expands: The UK’s ENER-G Group, a distributed power and energy management provider, has made an acquisition in Holland enabling it to launch Nedalo ENER-G BV to provide cogeneration products and services in continental Europe.

GE acquires MJ Harden: GE Power Systems has acquired Kansas City-based M.J. Harden, Inc., specialists in geospatial data management and integration services. M.J. Harden operations will be integrated with GE Power Systems-owned PII Pipeline Solutions division, based in the UK.

Scottish Power improves: Higher demand from US customers, as a result of warm weather, helped Scottish Power towards a 48 per cent rise in first quarter pre-tax profits but the utility warned against assuming the growth would continues through the year.

Siemens turbine deal cleared: Siemens has finalized its acquisition of Alstom’s industrial turbine division for M1.1bn following clearance by EU and US competition authorities.

Swagelok acquires Kenmac: Instrument manufacturer Swagelok has acquired Isle of Man-based Kenmac Limited, a privately held manufacturer of instrumentation valves and manifold, pressure regulators, process interface valves and piping products.

VRB secures support: Energy storage system developer VRB Power Systems has secured two letters of undertaking totalling $58m from a private US entity in support of a proposal for a BOO demand side management solution project for a US utility company.

Framatome ups China ties

Nuclear services company, Framatome ANP, has taken a 35 per cent stake in the Chinese company Shenzhen Nuclear Engineering (SNE) which has been established to provide services for the entire Chinese fleet of nuclear power plants, based on Framatome ANP’s skills and technology.

China Nuclear Industry (CNI 23), a subsidiary of China Nuclear Engineering Group Corp., will also have a 35 per cent stake in SNE.

The Framatome-based fleet consists of eight reactors generating a total of 6500 MW with a further 2600 MW to be added when three more reactors are built, Paris-based Framatome is owned by the Areva industrial group and Siemens.

Acciona acquires half of EHN stake

Spain’s Corporación Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN) approved the sale of 50 per cent of the company’s capital to Acciona for M382.68m. The remainder of EHN is owned by Sodena and Grupo Corporativo Empresarial de Caja Navarra.

The agreement includes the sale of wind energy assets belonging to Acciona to EHN, which will make the group the third largest wind power developer in the world with 1000 MW of installed capacity and 909 MW under construction. EHN will have an 18 per cent share of domestic wind power production.

The deal followed a tender process in which Acciona’s initial bid was the highest. Acciona was also chosen because of its commitment to the renewables sector and the incorporation of wind energy assets.

EHN also owns 25 small hydro plants as well as Spain’s largest biomass and photovoltaic solar plants.

Funding achieved for Powerspan development

US clean energy company, Powerspan, has raised $20m from investors to enable it to complete commercial development of the firm’s Electro-Catalytic Oxidation (ECO) technology. The multi-pollutant control technology is for existing and new coal fired power plants.

The ECO process integrates three separate air pollution control technologies and produces a commercial fertilizer co-product avoiding waste disposal.

Powerspan plans to establish its first commercial-scale installation of ECO at FirstEnergy Corp.’s 50 MW R.E. Burger plant in Ohio. The demonstration will provide the design, performance and reliability data needed to install ECO systems.

Malaysia ups stake in YTL Power

Malaysian power and construction company YTL Corporation has agreed to buy a 5.16 per cent stake in YTL Power International Bhd. from CLP Power Projects Limited.

On completion of the deal, YTL Corporation will have increased its stake in YTL Power to 60.41 per cent. The 116.7m shares are exchanging hands for $84.47m which YTL Corporation will pay for from internal funds.

Acquisitions drive up E.ON profits

E.ON has focused its electricity interests in regional markets, principally central Europe, the UK, the Nordic regions and Midwestern USA.

These markets are to receive the lion’s share of E.ON’s planned investments of some M26-28bn ($28-30bn) for the period 2003-2005 in order to enlarge its competitive position.