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France's EDF set to take over Italy's Edison

Reuters/Charles Platiau

French electricity company EDF has reached a deal with Italian shareholders that will give it majority control in Edison, Italy’s second-biggest power supplier, it announced Thursday. The deal comes after a year of Italian anxiety over French takeovers of Italian companies.

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EDF has been seeking control of Edison for 10 years. The long-drawn-out talks have led to the Italian company’s ratings being downgraded to junk status.

The agreement would increase EDF’s stake in Edison from about 50 per cent to about 80.7 per cent.

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In exchange Italian shareholders will gain control of electricity production unit Editpower, which should reach agreement to supply Edison with gas for half its gas needs for six years, an EDF statement said.

They will pay 800 million euros for the Edipower stake - 100 million euros than will be paid for control of Edison.

Founded in 1884 and based in Milan, Edison is Italy's oldest electricity company and is currently in second place in electricity generation behind Enel, producing 41.8 terrawatt hours of electricity or 14.6 per cent of the country's total in 2010.

Edison is also Italy's number two gas company, with 19.1 per cent of the market last year, behind ENI.

In March the Italian government tried to stop French dairy company Lactalis taking over Parmalat, amid concern over French takeovers of Italian companies.

EDF has been involved with Edison for a decade, buying a stake in its holding company in 2001 and teaming up with carmaker Fiat to take control, only to have the Italian government limit its voting power.

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