Minister backs Nuon takeover by Sweden

Economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven is positive about the takeover of the second biggest Dutch energy firm by state-owned Swedish company Vattenfall, reports Tuesday’s Volkskrant.

The situation is different from that facing Essent’s takeover by RWE because Vattenfall does not have its own high voltage grid network, the minister is reported as saying.
Dutch energy firms have to split off their grid activities under Dutch law, but RWE does not intend to do so, making Van der Hoeven uneasy about the sale.
‘It is now up to shareholders to decide on the current offer,’ Van der Hoeven said.
On Monday, Nuon and Vattenfall announced they had reached a deal on a phased €8.5bn takeover of the Dutch company. In January, Dutch market leader Essent said it was being bought by RWE for €9bn.
Euro signs
MPs are divided on the takeover. ‘Nuon is being sold because state-owned firms are not supposed to fit in a liberalised market, but Vattenfall is a Swedish state company. This is deceiving the public by people with euro signs in their eyes,’ said Socialist MP Paulus Jansen. The Socialist Party is currently running a campaign opposing electricity firm sell-offs.
Labour MPs are positive about the deal. Labour’s energy spokesman Diederik Samsom urged local councils which are poised to sell their shares in Essent to RWE to wait. Vattenfall has a better reputation in terms of sustainability, Samson said in the Volkskrant.
The province of Gelderland, which is a major Nuon shareholder, said it was positive about the deal. ‘Vattenfall is a trustworthy partner which meets our criteria,’ provincial executive Harry Keereweer told the Volkskrant. The province is set to make €4.4bn from the sale of its stake in Nuon.
Noord-Holland province, which has 9.2% of Nuon’s shares, said earlier that it does not intend to sell its stake. The deal needs support from 80% of shareholders to go through.
Environment campaigner Greenpeace pointed out that Vattenfall is urging people to sign petitions against climate change but is building a new brown coal power plant in Germany. ‘You cannot do worse for the environment,’ said spokeswoman Meike Baretta. It also points out that 30% of Vattenfall’s energy comes from nuclear power.

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