Enel into France as probe launched over possible price-fixing

Resolving a long-standing deadlock between France and Italy, French national power champion EdF is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding that will allow Italy’s Enel access to the French energy market. The deal will see Enel able to sell power on the French market, either bought from EdF or by renting power stations. Enel is also expected to be offered a stake in the French efforts to develop next generation nuclear stations.

In return, the Italian government is expected to lift its 2% voting right ceiling on EdF for its unit Italenergia, the parent company of Edison.

Meanwhile, Italy’s antitrust authority is reportedly investigating possible price manipulation on the county’s electricity exchange by Enel and a subsidiary unit.

The move follows an inquiry by the Authority for Electric Energy and Gas, the findings of which have apparently been referred to the anti-trust authorities. ‘It is believed that the conduct of Enel and its unit Enel Produzione on Italy’s wholesale electricity market… could involve an abuse of its dominant position,’ the antitrust authority reportedly said.

The latest antitrust investigation is due to finish by April 2006.