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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 17:38 GMT
Italy fired up on French gas deal
Enel workers fixing overhead power lines
Italy's Enel has been poised to make its own bid for Suez
Italy is turning up the heat after French firms Suez and Gaz de France unveiled plans to form Europe's second biggest energy firm after France's EDF.

On Tuesday, Italy held talks with its own energy champion, Enel, which had also been a possible suitor for Suez.

Rome also dispatched a senior minister to Brussels to lobby the EU on concerns Enel was unfairly blocked from growing in France by the planned merger.

Brussels has indicated the Paris-driven merger broke no rules.

Round of meetings

The Italian government sent economy minister Giulio Tremonti for high-level talks with major officials at the European Commission.

The meeting between Italian industry minister Claudio Scajola and Enel chief executive Fulvio Conti did not produce any publicised plan of action.

However, reports in Italy said the country could consider "re-nationalising" Electricite de France's core stake in Edison, the second largest power group in the country.

After meeting EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes on Tuesday, Mr Tremonti will then meet internal market chief Charlie McCreevy on Wednesday.

The Italian government wants to be seen to be supporting domestic interests in the run-up to April elections.

A Suez-Gaz de France merger would create a 72bn euro ($85.3bn; 48.9bn) operation, 34%-owned by the French state and expected to deliver annual cost savings of 500m euros.

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