THE EU HAS WARNED THAT plans by Austria’s largest utility Verbund to form a joint venture with regional generators led by EVN AG, Austria’s number two publicly traded utility, could lead to higher power prices due to the joint venture’s control of as much as 80% of the Austrian electricity market.

Competitors such as Kaerntner Elektrizitaets AG have asked the EU to force Verbund and EVN to sell the hydroelectric plants they own to guarantee competitive prices for wholesalers. A ruling by the EU on the appeal made by the competing utilities was due by 17 June 2003.