Court Suspends Spanish Green Light For Gas Natural's Endesa Bid

Spain's Supreme Court voted on April 21 to provisionally suspend a government decision to clear a takeover of electricity group Endesa by fellow Spanish group Gas Natural, a court spokesman said.

"The government will respect this decision and present an appeal if it sees fit," Spain's first deputy prime minister, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, said after the announcement.

Spain's Socialist government had in February conditionally cleared Gas Natural's 22.5 billion dollar (US$29.1 billion) bid for Endesa, part of a plan to create a Spanish national energy champion. Under the terms of the clearance in February, Gas Natural was ordered to divest nine billion euros worth of assets to number two electricity operator Iberdrola.

Endesa, which is opposed to a deal with Gas Natural, had gone to court on March 21 claiming that the conditions of the clearance violated EU free trade laws. Endesa is also the target of a takeover attempt by German group E.ON which has offered 29.1 billion euros in cash for the group.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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