July 23, 2008 / 6:18 AM / 12 years ago

Centrica to double stake in Belgium's SPE to 51 percent

Chief Executive of Centrica Sam Laidlaw speaks during a news conference in Blackpool, England, December 28, 2006. REUTERS/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Energy company Centrica (CNA.L) is doubling its interest in Belgian generation and supply company SPE SA to 51 percent for 515 million euros (408 million pounds), overturning a deal by France’s EDF to buy the stake.

Centrica said it had exercised a pre-emption right over the 25.5 percent stake in SPE held by Gaz de France GSZ.PA.

GDF was obliged to dispose of its stake in SPE as part of the anti-trust remedies imposed by the European Commission as a condition of approval of GdF’s merger with Suez, Centrica said.

On June 20, GDF agreed to sell its 25.5 percent stake in SPE to French power giant EDF (EDF.PA) for 515 million euros, subject to Centrica not exercising its outstanding option.

Centrica said in addition to the purchase price it could pay up to 105 million euros more based on the final terms and the timing of approval of “Pax Electrica 2” agreements under which SPE will acquire additional power offtake from Belgian nuclear power plants.

Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw said: “Our 51 per cent stake in SPE increases the opportunities for Centrica in Europe and the Pax Electrica 2 agreements further enhance the value of this stake by making SPE increasingly competitive in the Belgian marketplace.”

Reporting by Dan Lalor; editing by Sue Thomas

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