Aug 28 2002 – The French government aims to pass a law by April at the earliest to change the legal status of state-owned Electricite de France (F.EDF) to allow for direct private investment, a financial industry source familiar with the talks told Dow Jones Newswires Monday.

“The first important step in the (partial) privatization of EDF will be to transform EDF’s status in April or May 2003,” the source said.

Such a move requires legislation to be passed by France’s National Assembly.

“Privatizing EDF will be a long race, not a sprint,” the source added, noting that the current plans call for listing EDF in 2004.

The source said that banks working on the privatization deal have been on summer recess until Monday, so he was unable to verify the information in Monday’s La Tribune newspaper saying EDF plans to put several of its shareholdings in its Latin American and European operations up for sale.

The newspaper said EDF must raise much-needed cash, now that the French electricity company won’t be able to raise electricity prices for small commercial and household consumers as the company had recommended to the government.

EDF Chairman, Francois Roussely, recently told a parliamentary committee that “EDF’s accounts probably will touch the red” in 2002.