Spanish utility Gas Natural has announced a third quarter profit rise of 34%, helped by increased gas supply in Spain and Latin America.

Net sales totaled E5.8 million for the nine months of 2005, a 30.4% increase from last year, due to growth in Spain and the expansion of business in Latin America. Net sales for Latin America totaled E1 billion, up 38.8% from last year.

Electric power production rose by 61%, assisted by investment in its Cartagena power plant and high prices for electricity, over E54/MWh in the first nine months of 2005. A particularly cold winter in Spain boosted gas sales at the beginning of 2005, and a hot summer increased demand for air conditioning.

Earlier this year Gas Natural made an offer to buy rival Endesa, one of Spain’s leading electricity suppliers, which has been rebuffed. Gas Natural is now involved in a hostile takeover battle for Endesa and is currently waiting for a decision from the European Union on whether Brussels or Madrid antitrust authorities should vet the competition element of the deal.

A decision was expected on November 9, but media reports suggest this may be be delayed. It is widely thought that the Spanish authorities are likely to give the takeover a smoother passage than their European counterparts.