Shareholders of Gaz de France and Suez have approved a long-delayed 100 billion euro merger to form Europe’s second-largest electricity and gas group.
Triggered by the threat of a bid for Suez from Italy’s Enel, the merger saga lasted two and a half years. It included a political dispute over privatisation policy in France, union opposition and disputes over the financial terms.
Suez Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet said the groups complement each another in commercial, industrial, geographical and business areas.
GDF is Europe’s largest gas supplier and Suez is one of the world’s biggest electricity producers.
Combined they will have annual sales of almost 75 billion euros, a market value of 93 billion euros and a total workforce of 200,000.
There have been concerns that the merger may lead to higher energy prices and the European Union, fears it could hinder competition in the EU. Consumer advocate Edouard Petijean said: “The question is, what will have higher priority – the interests of the consumers or the financial profits of this future world energy leader.
Gaz de France and Suez have said they aim to increase their electricity production capacity through new nuclear power and renewable energy projects and to build up their gas production business. The merger is due to become effective on 22 July.