After 18 months of delays, a merger has finally been agreed between the utility group Suez and the French state-owned energy firm Gaz de France. Board members gave the green light to the move which creates a European power giant, with a value of 90 billion euros. Unions say it amounts to a privatisation of GDF. But French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has stressed the state will maintain significantly more than a blocking minority of 33.3 percent in the new company.
The merger was originally pushed forward by France’s previous conservative government to prevent a foreign takeover of Suez, the company that built the Suez Canal. Unions, however, remain firmly opposed to the deal. Jean-Francois Lejeune of “Force Ouvriere” says energy privatisations spell a lowering in service standards and a rise in prices.