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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 22:28 GMT
Tycoon ends Suez bid speculation
French billionaire Francois Pinault
Mr Pinault is a former retail tycoon
Billionaire French investor Francois Pinault has signalled he will not make a takeover bid for utility group Suez.

Mr Pinault's comments, which came in response to pressure from regulators, mean he will be barred from making a bid for the French firm for six months.

The tycoon was reported to be considering a 70bn euro ($92bn; 47bn) bid, rivalling a planned merger between Suez and state-run Gaz de France (GDF).

Mr Pinault said he hoped an alternative solution could be found to GDF's plans.

The government-backed proposals, brought about by reports that Italian group Enel was planning to bid for Suez, have faced stiff political opposition in France because the deal would in effect require the privatisation of GDF.

A court has since ruled that the French deal cannot go ahead until the full liberalisation of European Union energy markets on 1 July - after France's presidential election.

Luxury group

In a statement issued by his holding group Artemis, Mr Pinault said he had decided not to launch a bid for Suez despite securing the finances to mount a takeover.

"Artemis remains convinced that an alternative solution to the merger can be found in the interests of the market and will continue to examine the possibility of such an operation," he said.

Mr Pinault's business empire includes luxury group PPR, which owns the Gucci fashion label.

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