Electricité de France (EdF) is believed to be the leading power company interested in acquiring TXU Europe’s East Anglian network estimated to be worth £1.5bn ($2.1bn).

The East Anglian distribution network covers Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex along with parts of Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and north London.

Although the move has yet to be confirmed by both parties, it has rekindled bad feeling from the British, Spanish, Italian and German states, which feel that France has failed to open up its own energy market sufficiently.

TXU, the US energy group that owns the East Anglian network, supplying 7 million customers, wants to concentrate on growing its UK electricity retailing interests as well as using sales proceeds to expand in continental Europe.

EdF already owns a joint company with TXU that manages the local networks of the eastern region and neighbouring London Electricity, bought by the French outfit for £1.9bn in 1998.

EdF, which owns the retail business of SWEB, the south west of England supplier bought in 1999 for £235m, is also expected to bid for Seeboard the south east of England electricity supplier if, as expected, Seeboard’s US owner, AEP, puts it on the market next year.