Endesa takeover twists again

After weeks of wrangling the EU and Spanish government may not have to step in to sort Gas Natural’s hostile takeover bid for Endesa after it emerged that the gas company could have acted illegally in selling €9bn ($10.6bn) of Endesa’s assets before it obtained approval for the takeover.

Gas Natural required the cash from the asset sale to Iberdrola to fund a major part of its takeover bid. The news came as the deal looked set to be approved by the Spanish government following the European Commission’s decision that it was not a ‘community matter’.

Endesa has taken a number of steps recently to deflect Gas Natural’s advances, including starting legal proceedings against both the EU and Spain’s energy commission for their handling of the takeover bid. It has also recently announced a 12 per cent rise in its annual dividend.

France finally floats EDF

One week after the French government floated 15 per cent of EDF on the stock market, shares were trading at around €31.50 ($37), just under the price investors paid.

A record 4.8m private investors paid €32/share after the government responded to the high level of interest and increased the number of shares available to individuals. Shares to companies and institutions were available at €33/share. Analysts have questioned the high starting price of the shares stating that investors were right to be cautious given the uncertainties surrounding the group’s future nuclear liabilities and its highly unionised workforce.

The government issued the initial public offering in the state owned utility after overcoming the last of many obstacles it has faced on the journey to privatization. One of these was the level of investment to be made available, which will rise from €26bn to €30bn.

Austrian firm acquires Alstom industrial boilers division

Austrian Energy & Environment (AE&E) is set to acquire significant parts of Alstom’s industrial boilers and plants division in a deal that will see the Austrian company become one of Europe’s largest plant manufacturers.

The Alstom division currently operates with 450 employees at locations in Germany, the Czech Republic and Australia. Last year the division generated €400m ($471m) for Alstom and if added to the annual turnover of AE&E, €450m, the enlarged company would be the third largest power plant manufacturer in Europe.

AE&E expects the deal to be approved by the Cartel Commission before the end of the year. Alstom had put the division up for sale as a result of a directive from the European Union.

Babcock Power fully clad

Babcock Power has acquired all of the assets of US-based Cladding Technology, a specialized welding firm that deals exclusively with the application of hard metals to surfaces that are subject to destructive wear.

Ted Maliszewski, president of Babcock Power Services, said: “The opportunity to gain this additional technology and design information will complement our existing product offerings to the coal based generation facilities.”

Babcock will acquire all of Cladding Technologies’ assets, including drawings, patents, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, product formulae, licences, installation lists, and design programmes.

Siemens spies wind growth in Germany

Siemens has acquired AN Windenergie, a German company that specializes in wind energy sales and servicing, as it seeks to capitalize on future offshore wind energy projects in the country.

Siemens believes that Germany is one of the world’s most important wind energy markets, especially with regard to offshore potential. Andreas Nauen, head of Siemens’ wind power division, said: “With the acquisition of this company we want to further expand our market share in Germany.”

AN Windenergie had previously been the sales and service partner of Bonus Energy and has been active for Siemens since 2004, when it purchased the Danish wind turbine manufacturer.

Solid fuel cell partnership formed

Australia-based Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited has formed an alliance with US company Precision Flow Technologies to manufacture and market solid oxide fuel cell test systems.

Under the agreement, Precision Flow Technologies will build systems to test the fuel cells for later application in a variety of markets.

Ceramic Fuel Cells said the partnership would combine its knowledge in solid oxide fuel cell development, manufacture and testing with Precision Flow Technologies’ manufacturing experience and its established international installations of Proton Exchange Membrane test systems.

News digest

Acta doubles output: A 55 MW/cm2 direct alcohol fuel cell is now available after Acta announced it had more than doubled the power output of its catalyst. The platinum-free cell is now among the highest reported of any self breathing room temperature fuel cell of its kind.

Alstom wins: Alstom has been named Energy Company of the Year at the 2005 Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Energy awards in which 11 companies were commended for outstanding performance.

Ceramic approval: Ceramic Fuel Cell’s demonstration combined heat and power unit has received the European safety approval required for field trials to begin in Europe with German energy company, EWE AG.

Deutz record: German engine company Deutz has set a new company record for the number of engines sold for the first nine months of a year. Over 145 000 engines were sold, equating to a 9 per cent rise on the previous year’s sales revenue.

GE Energy award: Euromoney has named GE Energy as renewable technology supplier of the year for projects including the Arklow offshore wind farm in Ireland as well as the company’s ecomagination initiative.

Hemlock growth: Hemlock Semiconductor has cited the projected growth in the solar energy industry as the reason for the $400-$500m expansion of its polycrystalline silicon production facility in Michigan, US.

Intergraph signs: Intergraph Corporation has signed a five-year contract with Siemens Power Generation to standardize its SmartPlant Enterprise suite of software and engineering technology worldwide.

Kwikpower buys: Kwikpower International has acquired Wellman group to boost its interests in the renewable energy sector. UK based Wellman supplies equipment for the heat and steam treatment of waste products.

RWE sell off: RWE is to sell its UK and North American water businesses to concentrate on the converging European electricity and gas markets. The company will retain its continental European water business.

Suez profits: French utility group Suez has said the 8 per cent rise in its profits for the first nine months of 2005 was due to the start up of new power plants and growing electricity sales in Europe.

Wärtsilä buys: Wärtsilä has continued its growth into the service arena with the acquisition of Gerhardt Holding, a specialist in servicing control and automation equipment for gas and diesel engines and steam turbines.