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France

Iberdrola fears for wind assets if EDF takeover proposal succeeds

The break up and selling off of renewables assets belonging to the world's biggest wind operator, Spanish utility Iberdrola, would result from a proposed takeover of the company by French state utility Electricité de France (EDF), according to Ignacio Galán, Iberdrola chairman. After taking over Britain's ScottishPower last year, Iberdrola owns 7362 MW of operating wind capacity and is building 1300 MW across Spain, the rest of Europe and the US. Pierre Gadonneix, EDF's chairman, confirms "exploratory talks" on a takeover of Iberdrola in partnership with Spanish construction giant ACS. Apart from already owning 12.9% of Iberdrola, ACS also controls 45% of Unión Fenosa, a smaller rival utility. Since 2006, ACS has been pushing for a merger between the two utilities, a move rejected by Iberdrola. While ACS remains officially silent, press reports cite the company favouring a three way merger to bring in Gas Natural. That would create a Spanish energy giant, but would reportedly leave Iberdrola's foreign assets in EDF's hands, including over 3000 MW of wind -- and ScottishPower. Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has warned he will report EDF to UK and Brussels antitrust authorities if a bid transpires. Gadonneix insists there will be no bid if EDF is "not welcome" in Spain. Galán has assured him EDF is not welcome, but Gadonneix says the Spanish government does not necessarily share that view. Galán says fragmentation fears are shaking Iberdrola's takeover bid of US utility Energy East Corp. He has threatened to sue ACS and EDF for damages if that bid now fails. The next move is expected after the March 9 elections.

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