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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 September 2006, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
French MPs vote for gas sell-off
A worker demonstrates against Gaz de France selling shares
Plans to privatize Gaz de France have met with strong opposition
French MPs have backed a hotly-disputed clause in energy legislation which will allow the government to sell off Gaz de France to utilities firm Suez.

The planned takeover of a majority stake in the state-owned energy firm by Suez was backed by a majority in the National Assembly.

But the full bill still faces a vote in early October before it can become law.

The merger would produce an utility giant, but has been opposed by unions and opposition parties.

Angry MPs had proposed as many as 130,000 amendments to the bill - most of which have now been thrown out - in an attempt to slow or stop the legislation's progress.

The planned takeover has also attracted criticism because it was seen as a way in which France could block plans by foreign groups such as Italy's Enel to buy Suez.

The European Commission, for one, has warned the move could hurt competition in both France and Belgium.

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