The Belgian government is seeking reassurances from France over the likely impact of the proposed Gaz de France-Suez merger on the country's energy market, according to reports.
Belgium’s prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has cautioned that the merged body will have to make some significant asset disposals to ensure that competition in the country is not compromised.
I want to use this operation to introduce more competition in our market, the only way of forcing lower prices for the consumer, Mr Verhofstadt told Le Soir newspaper. It isn’t acceptable for 90% of the market to be concentrated in the hands of the new company.
One likely divestment concerns SPE, Belgium’s second largest electricity supplier and majority-owned by GdF. It appears a near certainty that GdF will be forced to sell its controlling stake in SPE, but according to comments from Belgium’s finance minister, this is unlikely to be enough in itself to satisfy antitrust concerns.
Reuters also reports that the Belgian vice prime minister Laurette Onkelinx told the media that the prospect of an approach from Enel has not been discussed in the recent meetings between government, GdF and Suez.