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Wednesday 15th of October 2008
February 27, 2006

Eurofirst higher on utilities merger


by Elaine Frei

In mid-afternoon trade on Thursday the European equities markets were mixed, with the Eurofirst and Xetra Dax up slightly but the CAC-40 down just a bit. Once again, activity in the utilities sector was one of the driving forces behind the gains and losses.

The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.1 percent in the middle of the afternoon session to 1,360.82. The Xetra Dax gained 0.3 percent to 5,885.43. In Paris, however, the CAC-40 dropped 0.2 percent to 5,066.38.

Over the weekend, the French government approved the merger between the Franco-Belgian Suez and state-owned Gaz de France in a €73 billion dollar deal. Technically, Gaz de France is acquiring Suez, but the state-owned portion of the new company will be under 40 percent. The approved merger sent shares in both companies down, with Gaz de France losing 1.7 percent to €29.28 after rising earlier in the day. Suez lost 4.5 percent to €32.36.

Elsewhere in the sector, Gas Natural was up 1 percent to €26.17, Endsea lost 0.1 percent to €28.32, and Eon dropped 0.1 percent as well, to €94.69 as it was reported that the directors of Gas Natural in Spain had met over the weekend to decide whether to match Eon’s larger counteroffer for Endsea. Meanwhile, EDF was up 4.6 percent to €46.51 when Morgan Stanley raised its target share price for the French electricity provider from €40 to €50.

In the energy sector, Italian group ERG was up 1.2 percent to €20.30 as JP Morgan issued an initial rating of “overweight” for the company with a target share price of €23. Oilfield services company Saipem was up 11.8 percent to €18.07 ahead of its full year earnings report and after purchasing Eni’s engineering unit, Snamprogetti.

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