Big utility offshore player is born -- Vattenfall and Nuon to merge

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Offshore wind power investment is a stated key priority of the European energy giant that is emerging from the fusion of Swedish company Vattenfall and Nuon of the Netherlands. The combined group plans to generate 15 TWh of wind power by 2015, compared with 2.5 TWh in 2009, and become the European leader in offshore wind.

State-owned Vattenfall made a cash offer of EUR 8.5 billion enterprise value for 100% of Nuon's shares, equalling EUR 10.3 billion for the equity of its production and supply company, which has operations in Germany and Belgium as well as the Netherlands. The transaction does not include Nuon's grid company Alliander. Initially, Vattenfall will acquire 49% of the shares, with the remainder to be acquired over the coming six years on fixed terms, giving Vattenfall operational control over Nuon. Subject to approval by Nuon's shareholders, the deal could close by the end of June.

Both companies bring varied portfolios of renewables to the merged group, which aims to be a "climate neutral" operation by 2050. In addition to its conventional generating portfolio, Nuon owns wind, hydro and solar plants in Europe. In its home market, it generates 22.5% of all Dutch wind power. Its wind assets include part ownership of the Netherlands' first offshore project, the 108 MW Egmond aan Zee development. It has further offshore ambitions in Belgium as well as the Netherlands.

Vattenfall, a major generator of electricity from large-scale hydro, claims to be the largest operator of wind farms in Scandinavia, generating some 42% of Nordic wind energy. It owns over 500 wind turbines in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the UK, generating close to 2 TWh annually, including two offshore wind farms, the 110 MW Lillgrund project in Sweden and Kentish Flats in Britain. Its wind expansion ambitions have mostly focused on the UK, where it has over 720 MW in development, 550 MW of that offshore.

The merged group says the partnership gives them the financial strength to accelerate investments in renewables, including solar and ocean power, as well as carbon capture and storage. Nuon CEO Øystein Løseth says that in Vattenfall, Nuon has found a "a thought leader in the environmental debate" that will help Nuon pursue its clean energy goals. Lars G Josefsson, CEO of Vattenfall, says the deal "will accelerate the realisation of Vattenfall's strategy to make electricity clean.

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