18 July 02 – Ruhrgas AG denied a report some of its managers believe the EU, not Germany, is responsible for judging whether its takeover by E.ON AG should go ahead.

“The report is both provocative and false… On the contrary, Ruhrgas believes the takeover through E.ON lies within the jurisdiction of Germany,” said Ruhrgas communications chief Andreas Reichel. Earlier, the Wirtschaftswoche weekly reported the merger will need its final green light from the EU, rather than from the German government.

The government has already given ministerial approval for the deal to go ahead, but it has been temporarily blocked by the Duesseldorf state court, which ruled it is the prerogative of the EU to judge the deal.

Wirtschaftswoche claimed the German economy ministry overlooked the fact that E.ON’s acquisition of UK power company Powergen PLC, which was completed before the government gave its approval on July 5, gave the company more than 50 per cent of sales abroad.

This would mean the EU should rule on the deal, it reported. But Ruhrgas said: “Structural changes that have an effect on sales, but had not yet taken place when the takeover was announced, do not influence to whom the jurisdiction belongs.”

The EU commission has repeatedly said it is up to Germany alone to rule on the deal.