EU approves Electrabel purchase of French hydro utility

The European Commission has granted permission for Belgian utility Electrabel to purchase exclusive control of French hydropower producer Compagnie Nationale du Rhone (CNR).

“The Commission concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it,” the European Union’s executive arm said.

By last year, Electrabel’s parent, French utility group Suez, had already reported a full consolidation of CNR through Electrabel, which holds a 49.97 percent stake in the hydro operator. French government-owned bank Caisse des depots et Consignations owns 33.2 percent, while the remaining 16.83 percent is owned by local units.

In 2002, Electrabel won agreement to buy 11.4 percent of CNR, which owns 18 hydro plants on the Rhone River ranging from 40 MW to 400 MW and totaling 2,937 MW.

In late 2006, Electrabel increased its stake in another French hydropower producer, Societe Hydro-Electrique du Midi (SHEM) to 99.6 percent from 40 percent. (HNN 1/2/07) SHEM operates 49 hydroelectric plants totaling 773 MW under concession at 12 sites.

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