9 April 2002 – Germany’s giant utility group E.ON has added a subsidiary of Finnish energy group Fortum to its list of recent acquisitions. Fortum has sold Fortum Energie GmbH, which includes the sought after regional electricity distributor Elektrizitatswerk Wesertal GmbH (EWW), for €535 ($479m).

Fortum said on Monday it had sold the German unit in order to focus on the fragmented Nordic region’s utility market. Fortum, the Nordic region’s largest energy firm by sales, said the capital gain from the sale was around €120m.

The Finnish state-controlled company has, over the past year and a half, sold off assets to fund a return to the Nordics where it feels it has a better chance to play an active role in the consolidation of the fragmented sector.

Fortum said E.ON – Europe’s biggest listed utility by market value – would not take control of Fortum Kraftwerk (a separate subsidiary of Fortum Energie) which has already been separated with a view to selling it on to another buyer.

Fortum, with a strong presence in Finland and Sweden, needs the funds to pay for the purchase of Swedish electricity business Birka Energi AB.

Duesseldorf-based E.ON has also been selling non-core activities as it hones its focus on energy and water. It is proceeding with the acquisition of UK power group Powergen and is rumoured to be eyeing up the Seeboard regional gas and electricity retailer serving Southeast England – part of the Dallas-based CSW group.

Fortum said its unit Fortum Energie AG had net sales of around €270m last year and employees more than 600 employees.

E.ON Energie board member Walter Hohlefelder said the purchase of EWW paved the way for a new E.ON-led regional utility player in the eastern Westphalia and southern Lower Saxony states.

“Through the acquisition of Wesertal, we will create the prerequisites for an efficient and competitive utility in the region,” he said in a statement.

Last month Fortum sold its 28 percent stake in Finnish utility Espoon Sahko to E.ON for €144m with a pre-tax capital gain of over €50m.