A report from the Dow Jones news agency reveals that plans to establish a “Neue Kraft” or “New Force” in the European electricity power market have been delayed. The admission of a hold-up came in comments made on Tuesday by a spokesman for Swedish utility Vattenfall – one of the partners in the project.

The concept announced in April this year by Vattenfall, along with Mirant Corporation of the US, was to unite their shareholdings in four German utility groups, Hamburg utility HEW, Berlin’s Bewag, Veag and Laubag, a mining company and form the third largest power group in Germany.

The release of a “masterplan” outlining the structure of the planned new company has been delayed indefinitely as a result of lingering questions about the role of Bewag in the new group, said Markus Baluska, spokesman for Mirant Deutschland. But the issue won’t necessarily delay the creation of the electricity group beyond the targeted date of mid 2003, Baluska added.

The delay to the masterplan stems from an agreement that Bewag will play a “significant” role in the group and from questions about how precisely that role should be defined, he said. Baluska declined to speculate about when the masterplan would be ready for release.

A Vattenfall spokesman said the masterplan could still be ready by the end of September, but he acknowledged that this would be difficult.

“There are still a number of hard problems to be resolved among the shareholders,” said the spokesman, Martin May. He declined to comment on the Bewag issue in particular.

The new venture will have a balance sheet of some $12.9bn and will produce 80 TW a year when it commences. A definitive name has yet to be announced for the group, which is using “Neue Kraft” as a working title.

The group will be set up to rival the existing German power groups, which are: RWE, E.On and Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg (EnBW).

Vattenfall will eventually end up with a 70 per cent holding in the new venture, with Mirant holding the remainder.