Suez selects Italy's Eni for Distrigaz stake sale

In line with Suez's commitment to the EC to sell off its 57.25% stake in Belgium's Distrigaz in the framework acceptance of the GDF-Suez merger, it has opened "exclusive negotiations" with Italy's Eni over two other companies.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, May 27 -- In line with Suez's commitment to the European Commission to sell off its 57.25% stake in Belgium's Distrigaz in the framework acceptance of the Gaz de France-Suez merger, it has opened "exclusive negotiations" with Italy's Eni SPA over two other companies.

Suez said Eni was the "highest bidder," and according to Eni Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni, in an interview by France's economic daily Les Echos, Eni offered the most synergies and opened up a number of gas supply markets—Gazprom, Sonatrach, the Netherlands, Norway, Libya, and some production volumes—to Distrigaz.

Scaroni said Eni offered Gaz de France-Suez, its gas distribution network in Rome and interests in gas fields and electricity production capacities in Italy. Suez had said it wanted, rather than cash, energy assets for Distrigaz, which is the main gas distributor in Belgium, with sales of €4.7 billion. The sales price was not divulged, but Distrigaz is valued at €2.5 billion.

The transaction, to be finalized May 29, is subject to finalization of the merger of Gaz de France and Suez. Announced in February 2006, the merger has overcome several obstacles, especially determined obstruction by the powerful CGT Mines and Energy trade union. CGT's last attempt to prevent the merger failed, and on May 26 the consultation process required with Gaz de France's Work Council was closed.

Barring any unexpected set back, the final merger should take place mid-July.

More in General Interest