Exceeding the 90% threshold of state EDF is another step towards renationalisation

A big leap forward, but not the end of the soap opera. The French State has passed the threshold of 90% of EDF’s capital, an important step to carry out a public takeover bid (OPA), which intends to re-nationalize the electricity giant in order to restart it, but the outcome of which still depends on a court decision. .

“On January 19, 2023, the state exceeded the threshold of 90% of the capital and the theoretical voting rights of the EDF company,” the Ministry of Economy said in a press release published this Friday.

The €9.7 billion deal is of strategic importance to the country, which wants to build six new-generation EPR nuclear reactors.

In the stock market, this is a decisive step taken by the state in the context of a public takeover offer (OPA), for which the deadline was postponed indefinitely due to legal action.minority shareholders.

After that, at the end of the offer, it can initiate a forced withdrawal of EDF shares from the Paris Stock Exchange, i.e. may force the remaining minority shareholders to sell their shares as they now represent less than 10% of the equity. and the right to vote.

“The situation is getting difficult”

However, the renationalisation, which was decided last summer when the state owned 84% of the capital, has not yet been completed and appears to have been significantly delayed.

The takeover bid, which opened on November 24, was originally supposed to close on December 22. But AIF decided on December 7 to postpone the offer “pending the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal” filed by a group of minority shareholders dissatisfied with the proposed price.

“We see that the situation is about to collapse, then it is enough to find an agreement with a price increase suitable for all parties, so that the appeals are stopped and the operations are carried out successfully,” explained the leader of Martin Forum. The small rebel carriers have had countless legal transactions in their origins for months.

These small shareholders are mainly EDF employees or ex-retired employees for whom the buyback price currently set by the state at 12 euros per share is insufficient.

This price was confirmed by an independent expert’s report, but small shareholders believe that the company is undervalued and has been unfairly penalized in their income by the state (Arenh) mechanism that forces them to sell electricity at a lower price. prices to alternative suppliers.

The stock market watchdog authorized the launch of the takeover bid on November 22, specifically based on this report. However, on December 2, an appeal was filed with the Paris Court of Appeal to overturn this decision, along with a request for a stay of execution. The court hearing to consider this ban has been scheduled for January 25. On March 23, the next hearing on the merits was scheduled at the Economic and Financial Regulation Chamber of the Court of Appeal.

“Overall, we are on a takeover proposal that works. The impact will be relatively small,” said Alexander Malrik, energy director of CGI Business Consulting. “To me, it’s really a non-issue,” added Nicholas Goldberg, an energy expert at a Columbus consulting firm. reactors that the government wants.

Arenh, which was originally created to help create competition between electricity suppliers, has been regularly criticized by EDF as a “poison” that has strained its finances. The government is working on another device to replace this mechanism, which will expire on December 31, 2025.

More broadly, the question of when the state will become the sole operator of the company remains unanswered as the state intends to fund EDF’s construction of six new-generation EPR nuclear reactors.

This project will cost tens and tens of billions of euros, and EDF’s finances are burdened with a record debt approaching 60 billion.

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