The El Pais report, which cites government sources, also apparently suggests that the government will impose a tougher set of conditions on the deal than those proposed by the country’s energy regulator, la Comision Nacional de la Energía (CNE). The newspaper suggests that the government is likely to finalize its decision by February 5.

The takeover hit a significant hurdle last week as Spain’s competition watchdog reached a conclusion at odds with the CNE, saying that the deal would be bad for choice in the country’s energy markets and should be vetoed as a result. The government will now have the final say on the long-running saga.

The AFX News Agency reported prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero as saying that a strong, internationally competitive energy heavyweight would be ‘a good thing’ for Spain.