Italian power supplier Enel continues to increase its shareholding in Spain’s Endesa. In a share swap deal with Italian merchant bank Mediobanca it will buy a further 2.98% of the sought-after Spanish electricity company. The move will bring its stake to just under 25%. Above that level it would have to tell the stock market regulator that it was making a mandatory bid for the whole of Endesa, as required under Spanish law. Enel said it has no intention of making a full takeover bid.
The giants of the European power world are facing off against each as the EU moves to open up the region’s energy markets to full competition. E.ON is the biggest operator – with turnover last year of sixty four billion euros – but its size has not stopped it being thwarted by Enel in its attempts to buy Endesa.
Chief executive Wulf Bernotat has not given a clear indication of what E.ON will do. Last week he said: “Theoretically, we can either abandon the project or we can possibly accept a minority shareholding.” So far E.ON has not withdrawn its 41 billion euro bid.
How this all plays out depends on key shareholders such as Spanish bank Caja Madrid, which owns 10% of Endesa. It has said no decision has yet been taken on whether to accept E.ON’s bid. Spain’s stock market regulator expects the ongoing bidding process to be finished by the end of March.