Outlook: One Way Traffic in France's Electricity Invasion
THE FRENCH invasion of the UK electricity market continues unabated. Yesterday, Electricite de France paid out a shade more than pounds 1.7bn to add the wires business of Eastern Electricity and a Nottinghamshire coal- fired power station to its collection. London Electricity and Sweb were bagged by the French a long time ago.
TXU, the American owner of Eastern, says there was a healthy auction. But there was only ever going to be one winner. The business was worth more to EdF than anyone else because London and Eastern already operate their distribution networks jointly through the snappily named 24seven. And EdF could afford to pay more than anyone else, of course, because it is state-owned.
The TXU deal will leave EdF with 5 million customers in distribution, 3 million in supply and 10 per cent of the UK generating market, including the juice it imports through the cross- Channel interconnector. Nor is there any sign of the French stopping there. Even with London, Eastern and Sweb under its belt and a 75 per cent stake in Virgin Energy, EdF says it is still the poor relation of the UK electricity market compared with the likes of Innogy. …