French firm completes power merger

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International Power has six plants in the UK, including the giant coal-fired station at Rugeley in Staffordshire

A UK power firm has fallen into foreign ownership as a merger between International Power and France’s GDF Suez was completed.

The deal, which will see GDF own 70% of the newly formed business, combines International’s 45 power stations with the French firm’s international assets.

International Power has six plants in the UK, including the giant coal-fired station at Rugeley in Staffordshire which powers the equivalent of half a million homes.

It also owns the gas-fired station at Saltend, near Hull, and is a majority owner in the First Hydro hydroelectric plants at Dinorwig and Ffestiniog in north Wales.

The merger comes after British Energy was bought by another French company, EDF, for £12.5 billion in 2008. It leaves Britain owning just two independent energy producers in Centrica and Scottish & Southern Energy.

A report by the Office of Fair Trading recently revealed more than a third of the UK’s infrastructure – such as energy, water and transport – is under foreign ownership.

Sir Neville Simms, chairman of International Power, said: “This is a major milestone in the development of International Power.

“The enlarged group has a strong pipeline of committed new-build projects already in the course of construction and enhanced access to further significant growth opportunities through its broader global presence.”

The tie-up, which was approved by 99% of International’s shareholders, will make GDF the world’s largest utility by revenues, while the newly formed business will employ a combined 11,000 people.

Gerard Mestrallet, chairman and chief executive of GDF, said: “International Power offers an attractive growth profile with an unparalleled and balanced portfolio of assets. Our new group is ideally positioned in the regions where 80% of tomorrow’s production capacity needs will occur.”

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