Net profits for the quarter came to E842 million, from E768 million a year earlier. The results cap an encouraging couple of weeks for the Italian company, which has also completed the purchase of Slovakia’s largest utility, and unveiled plans for a major expansion into central and eastern Europe over the years ahead.

The company will be hoping that these plans enable it to overcome the fallout from the controversial dispute with French authorities over its efforts to buy Suez, which were thwarted by an apparently politically-motivated rival merger involving Gaz de France. At present it remains unclear whether Enel will benefit from any forced divestments of that deal on antitrust grounds.