British Energy bidder list narrows

Monday, May 26, 2008

Suez’s formal withdrawal from the bidding for British Energy further whittles down the official number of European energy groups that have expressed an interest in acquiring all or part of the nuclear power group.

In early April it was thought that British Energy was in discussions with five European energy companies about a possible bid or collaboration. The groups believed to be in the talks at the time were EDF, the French state-controlled energy group, RWE and Eon of Germany, Spain’s Iberdrola, and Centrica of the UK.

The talks have continued since it was confirmed in March that leading energy suppliers have been approached by advisers to the UK government to sound out interest in its 35.2 per cent stake in British Energy, with a value put at more than £2bn.

The nuclear group is known to have received a concrete offer from EDF by the May 9 deadline set by Rothschild, British Energy’s banking adviser, of slightly higher than 680p a share.

RWE made an indicative all-cash offer of close to 700p a share several weeks ago, valuing British Energy at close to £11bn.

To date British Energy has merely stated that it it has received three live offers – two of which are higher than 680p a share and another that has not so far resulted in a definite price being put on the table.

It emerged on Friday that British Energy had included Suez as one of those three, despite the murkiness of Suez’s intentions. Eon and Sweden’s Vattenfall have also withdrawn interest.

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