Bloomberg has said that it believes European utilities are no longer regarded as safe havens by investors as governments seeking to curb budgets deficits use power companies to raise cash.

Italy has joined Germany and Finland in imposing levies on utilities, which traditionally hold up in a recession because of steady electricity demand and higher-than-average dividends.

Lueder Schumacher, an analyst at UniCredit, said: “Utilities are not defensive anymore. They were clearly exposed when this whole credit crisis kicked off, only banks did worse. This is because they are state proxies and you get states helping themselves to money via utilities.”

Peter Atherton, analyst for Citigroup, said that the imposition of a €170m tax on nuclear and hydro generation in Finland, as well as Germany’s decision to introduce a levy on nuclear fuel rods, has drawn attention to the political risks.

Europe’s main utilities index has fallen 34 per cent compared with a 7.7 per cent drop in the STOXX Europe 600 index since 2008.

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