The board of Spanish utility Endesa has unanimously recommended that shareholders reject the E21 per share offer for the firm from compatriot Gas Natural.

The board’s move marks the latest twist in the long-running saga of the hostile bid from Gas Natural. While Endesa has fiercely opposed the takeover from the start, it has been approved with conditions by the Spanish energy regulator and is seen as having the tacit support of the Zapatero government.

The battle for Endesa has been complicated by the arrival in recent days of a rival bid for the company from Germany’s E.ON. The Spanish government is however thought to favor a Gas Natural tie-up to create a national energy champion.

The board considers the Gas Natural takeover bid negatively and recommends not taking up the offer, Endesa said in a statement reported by Reuters.