Reports of assets sale still denied

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While Dutch utility Nuon recently celebrated the powering up of the first two turbines of its first wind farm on Belgian soil -- a 90 MW, 38 turbine project in Antwerp harbour -- the company refuses to comment on persistent claims that it is otherwise reducing, not growing, its international wind portfolio by selling its stakes in the Spanish and German wind markets. Nonetheless, bids for the Nuon assets are being prepared by potential purchasers, including for Nuon's Spanish wind concern, Desarrollos Eólicos SA (DESA), which it bought in 2001 for some EUR 169.1 million.

Nuon will only say: "These claims are also known within our company, we only can comment on the approved and disclosed policies of our corporate executive board. At this moment in time it is our policy to maintain our existing portfolio and further expand our renewable production capacity in our core countries: the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany."

Despite this formal denial, the impression that Nuon is withdrawing from its former ambition to secure a niche position within the liberalised European energy market as a "green" utility is strengthened by the dissolution last year of its dedicated Renewables Division. The company argues that this division was no longer necessary as renewables are now integrated across the company's activities.

Along with VLEEMO -- a group of local investors in the Flanders region of Belgium -- Nuon is meantime investing an estimated EUR 100 million in the Antwerp harbour project. On completion in 2006, permits permitting, it is set to be the country's largest wind farm on land. Before the summer, Nuon is also expected to join with Shell in investing some, EUR 200 million in a 108 MW offshore wind farm eight kilometres off the Dutch coast, known as the Near Shore Windfarm or NSW.

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