The takeover battle for Spanish power company Endesa could be getting more complicated with German utility E.ON reportedly thinking of buying shares in Italy’s Enel. That would be a countermove to Enel’s purchase of a large stake in Endesa which could block E.ON’s proposed takeover.
Spain’s stock market regulator has been asked to look into claims of collusion between the Italian and Spanish governments. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi told EuroNews: “There is no preferential political-industrialist axis between Rome and Madrid but certainly there is very good political co-operation between Spain and Italy.”
Enel has bought a 9.9% holding in Endesa and has options for another 12%. Enel together with the other two largest shareholders – building firm Acciona and bank Caja Madrid – could block E.ON. Spain has made it clear in the past that it wants Endesa to remain Spanish but Industry Minister Joan Clos would only say: “The government’s view is that we want to make sure that this takeover takes place with total freedom for the companies and the market.”
To try to keep the key energy company in Spanish hands Madrid had imposed strict conditions on the E.ON bid which the European Commission ordered it to lift. E.ON’s chief executive, Wulf Bernotat, was apparently advised by US bank Goldman Sachs to buy Enel shares as a countermove, but one report says while the Germany company’s management board discussed that plan it decided not to follow through on it.