5 Feb 2002 – American Electric Power (AEP) yesterday ended speculation by confirming that it would be seeking a buyer for its Seeboard electric and gas distribution subsidiary in the southeast of England later this year.

AEP said it had retained Schroder Salomon Smith Barney and ABN AMRO to advise on the divestment.

AEP acquired Seeboard as part of its merger with Central and South West Corp (CSW), a US electric utility, in June 2000. CSW acquired Seeboard in 1996 for £1.6bn. Because of accounting restrictions stemming from AEP’s merger with CSW, any divestment of Seeboard is not expected until the third quarter of 2002.

Seeboard, headquartered in Crawley, West Sussex, sells electricity and gas to about 2 million customers in the UK. The majority of these customers are in Kent, Sussex and parts of Surrey.

It is expected to fetch £1.3bn-1.5bn ($1.84bn-2.12bn) and already has one confirmed suitor with state-owned Electricite de France (EdF) having confirmed its definite interest in November. EdF already owns London electricity and electricity retailers serving East Anglia and the southwest of England.

Others likely to show interest include Scottish and Southern, which owns Southern, a rival power supplier, Italian energy group Enel and Powergen, which is being bought by Germany’s E.ON.