The final outcome of the long running battle for Spanish utility Endesa remains unclear as original suitor Gas Natural battles to keep its bid alive in the face of competition from German heavyweight E.ON and judicial hurdles in Spain.

On March 21, a Spanish court upheld a complaint from Endesa that the on the grounds that a deal agreed between Gas Natural and Iberdrola, another leading Spanish utility, contravened EU rules on free trade. The suspension of Gas Natural’s hostile, E22 billion bid was however dependent on Endesa paying an E1 billion bond, which it did last week.

Now Platts reports comments from Gas Natural officials saying that the bid could be sidelined for as long as a year while the legal technicalities involving Iberdrola are ironed out. However other Spanish media outlets have reported that discussions are shortly to get underway between the two parties in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

There is seemingly considerable pressure from the Madrid government for an all-Spanish resolution to the impasse, which is essentially a result of Endesa’s bitter opposition to being bought by Gas Natural.

Two of Gas Natural’s biggest shareholders, oil firm YPF Repsol and bank La Caixa, are thought to be keen to engineer a settlement.

Despite Duesseldorf-based E.ON offering a superior E29 billion in cash for Endesa, the Spanish company’s board has also failed to signal its support for the rival tender, saying that the company is still being undervalued.