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EDITIONS
Friday, 31 January, 2003, 12:10 GMT
Germany clears 10bn euro gas deal
E.On HQ
E.On will now control Germany's gas markets
The way is clear for German utilities giant E.On to buy gas dsitributor Ruhrgas in a 10bn euro ($10.8bn; 6.5bn) deal, after nine companies withdrew their objections.

The nine, mostly domestic rivals, had told a Dusseldorf court that the takeover would kill competition on German energy markets.

But the court announced on Friday that the case had been withdrawn, suggesting that a spate of recent rumours predicting an imminent out-of-court deal were correct.

Ruhrgas HQ
We need to see what E.On paid to convince the plaintiffs

Susanne Schneemayer
Hypovereinsbank analyst
The deal means E.On, Europe's second-largest utility, will control most of Germany's gas import market.

Down to the wire

E.On had been racing to settle its differences by a 1200 GMT deadline for the Dusseldorf judge to rule on the takeover.

Its shares had risen 2.5% in early trading in Frankfurt on investors' expectations of a deal.

And the go ahead also means the company can complete the sale of its main non-core business, from chemical firm Degussa to coal group RAG.

The government had already given its blessing, over-ruling the Cartel Office's reservations because of the strategic implications of Germany's growing dependence on gas imports.

The price of the pay-off

But the cost of whatever concessions E.On has agreed with the nine rivals remains unclear.

"We need to see what E.On paid to convince the plaintiffs," said Hypovereinsbank analyst Susanne Schneemayer.

"It might be that they offered special conditions, have given away shareholdings or paid them cash," she said.

E.On promised to make a statement earlier in the day, while one of the nine plaintiffs - Berlin energy broker Ampere AG - said only that its deal had included a gas and power supply contract.

See also:

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