EDF deal for British Energy comes closer
THE acquisition of Sizewell B owner British Energy by the EDF group came a step closer yesterday as the French utility giant agreed to sell off two power stations as part of a deal to gain EU approval for the deal.
THE acquisition of Sizewell B owner British Energy by the EDF group came a step closer yesterday as the French utility giant agreed to sell off two power stations as part of a deal to gain EU approval for its £12.5 billion takeover.
EDF - which aims to build to new reactors at Sizewell - has agreed to sell its gas fired power station at Sutton Bridge in Cambridgeshire and the coal fired station at Eggborough in East Yorkshire currently owned by British Energy to clear European competition hurdles.
The announcement came as the European Commission said it had given conditional approval for EDF's purchase of nuclear power giant British Energy, which produces a sixth of the UK's electricity.
EDF has also undertaken to sell a minimum level of electricity in to the British wholesale market, and it will sell off one site potentially suitable for building a new nuclear power plant located at either Heysham in Lancashire or Dungeness in Kent.
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It will also end one of the combined group's three grid connection agreements with the National Grid at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The Eggborough site was acquired by British Energy in 2000 and generates 1960 megawatts (MW) of electricity and comprises four 500 MW coal-fired units dating from between 1962 and 1970. British Energy is predominantly a nuclear power station group, but bought the coal powered site to offer it greater flexibility.
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EDF's Sutton Bridge power plant supplies 2% of the electricity for England and Wales. The site, which was built almost 10 years ago and is powered by natural gas, is managed under a contract by GE.
EDF unveiled its offer for British Energy in September in a deal that will net the Government more than £4 billion for its 36% stake and is expected to kick-start a wave of new nuclear plants in the UK.
It plans to sell a 25% stake in the new British Energy to British Gas parent firm Centrica, which aims to secure a power-sharing arrangement once the takeover is complete.
France's majority state-owned utility group has pledged to build four new reactors in the UK with the potential to generate electricity to meet more than 13% of the UK's forecasted energy demand by the early 2020s.
EDF, which is already the world's biggest nuclear power provider, said it wanted to construct and operate two reactors each at existing BE sites at Sizewell in Suffolk and Hinkley Point in Somerset.
The deal is now set to be completed early in the New Year, with only a few minor conditions still to be overcome, including a technical share transfer by the Government.