Control of Edison has officially been handed over to French EDF, while A2A, Iren and other shareholders in Delmi have taken charge of Edipower and its electrical production plants. Contracts were signed in the chambers of Clifford Chance in Milan, putting the seal on the laborious restructuring of Edison, following hard-fought negotiations that lasted a year and a half and saw the intervention of three ministers and a number of extensions of the shareholders' agreement.
Ten years on from the entrance of what was then Montedison, the French group have ended their "Italian campaign" with the purchase of 80% of capital and exclusive control of the electricity group. They have not, however, taken up the 7,600 megawatts of Edipower, which will remain in Italian hands.
The former ENEL genco and its nine power stations are handed over to Delmi and will be consolidated by A2A, which becomes Edipower's controlling shareholder, with 56% of company capital, and is flanked by Iren (21%).
Edipower could become the uniting hub around which to build a major Italian multi-utility company, though the means with which to do this is still up for debate and the patriotism characterizing the world of companies formerly owned by local authorities must be overcome. EDF's purchase of Edison "is a decisive step towards a real gas strategy by the group," said the chairman, Henri Proglio, who explained that the French group's target is to make Italy a "gas hub", given that the country "finds itself in a potentially ideal geopolitical location, at the crossroads of various supply infrastructures" that give the country a strategic role in the safety of supplies in Europe. It is no co-incidence, therefore, that "the headquarters for the gas hub for the whole of EDF will be in Milan", Proglio added, with Italy set to play "a role" in liquefied gas too. Edison, he continued, will also benefit from "synergies" with the French through "access to international agreements, such as the deal recently signed with Gazprom".
There were celebrations on the Italian side too, meanwhile, with the birth of the "new Edipower". Delmi has put the finishing touches on the operation, completing 5-year financing worth 1.25 billion euros in support of the purchase (shares in the holding company and in Edipower have been handed over as security) and has signed agreements on governance, which include a way-out for Iren to be exercised in exchange for ownership of the production plants. "The partnership between Iren and A2A, together with the efforts of other shareholders, will give serious impetus to the improvement of Edipower's competitiveness," said Roberto Garbati, the chief executive of Iren and the new president of Edipower, who yesterday appointed a new board of directors.
With the advent of Edipower, A2A becomes "the second largest Italian electrical operator with around 12,000 megawatts of capacity installed and an efficient productive mix," added Renato Ravanelli, the director general of A2A. "A significant part of this portfolio is made up of hydroelectric plants that will help to improve significantly the group's industrial profitability," Ravanelli added. The only element outstanding before the operation can be completed is the compulsory takeover bid by EDF on Edison's floating capital at 0.89 euros per share.
The bid will be launched "at the end of June or in July," said EDF's chief financial officer, Thomas Piquemal. (ANSAmed).