7 Feb 2002 – A report in the Financial Times today says that French state-owned electricity group Electricité de France (EdF) is seeking to increase its ownership of Energie Baden-Wurttemberg (EnBW), Germany’s third-largest utility.
EdF currently owns 34.5 per cent of EnBW and has approached two German municipal utility associations with a view to buying part of the combined 14 per cent they hold.
The two utilities, Landeselektrizitatsverband Wurttemberg (LEVW) and Gemeindeelektrizitatsverband Schwarzwald-Donau (GSD), have been looking for an opportunity to realize cash for their communities by selling their interests and had hoped to take advantage of a planned offering by EnBW.
“We are first and foremost in favour of the market offering, but we also remain in talks with EdF and EnBW and are ready to sell our stakes directly as long as the price is right,” said Mr Kubler, mayor of Ohringen, a community in one of the municipal utilities’ areas of operation.
EdF’s initial acquisition of a 34 per cent stake in EnBW was subject to a five-month review by European competition authorities last year and approval ultimately given, subject to a number of concessions by EdF.
EdF is reported to be interested in buying half the municipality’s 14 per cent stake. Such a plan would undoubtedly meet opposition from those who believe that EdF’s predatory behaviour within Europe is an abuse of the liberalizing markets which exist. France continues to resist full pan-European market liberalization within the electricity sector and at home is slow to introduce reform which would encourage foreign competition.