Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

Gaz de France and Suez

The hasty marriage of French utilities Gaz de France and Suez, announced in February, is another example of the nationalism thwarting visions of a barrier-free Europe. The $41 billion deal was arranged by the French government, which holds a majority stake in Gaz de France, to fend off an Italian suitor, Enel. French politicians hustled to ensure the utilities — and their many, highly prized jobs — stayed in Gallic control. Although the European Commission approved the union in November, it still faces opposition from shareholders who insist the deal is too cheap.