Centrica plc welcomes the announcement by the European Commission that it has cleared the proposed purchase by Electricité de France SA of Centrica's majority holding in its Belgian business, SPE, through the purchase by the EDF Group of Segebel SA.
This announcement follows the decision by the Office of Fair Trading in August to approve Centrica's acquisition of 20 per cent of British Energy from EDF. Centrica's investment in British Energy and the acquisition of SPE by the EDF Group are inter-conditional and therefore both transactions can now complete.
Centrica will also offtake 20 per cent of the uncontracted power from the British Energy fleet and EDF and Centrica will form a separate 80/20 joint venture through which they will undertake the pre-development activities for a planned nuclear new build programme, with the intention of constructing, and operating and decommissioning four European Pressurised Reactors. EDF will also provide Centrica with an additional 18TWh of power at market prices over five years from 2011.
The operational performance of the British Energy nuclear fleet has improved, with 42.5TWh of power generated in the first three quarters of the year, 42 per cent above the level in the same period of 2008.
Commenting on today's announcement, Centrica Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw said: "This is a welcome decision and we look forward to completing the British Energy transaction shortly. We believe nuclear energy is an essential component in ensuring clean, secure energy for the UK and we are proud to be part of the nuclear renaissance in the UK. The price secured for the sale of SPE will help preserve our balance sheet firepower as we focus on other investment opportunities that will further underpin UK energy supply security.
Under the terms of the arrangements with EDF, the British Energy and SPE transactions are expected to complete simultaneously on 26 November 2009.