Court takes over Gas Natural's Italian units in mafia probe

MADRID Fri May 23, 2014 1:46pm EDT

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MADRID May 23 (Reuters) - A court has taken temporary control of the Italian units of Spain's Gas Natural Fenosa as part of an investigation into possible organised crime activity, the Spanish company said on Friday.

The move was a preventive measure that will not affect business operations or earnings, Gas Natural said in a statement to the Spanish securities regulator.

"This is part of an investigation headed by the Palermo public prosecutor, which aims to keep organised crime from possibly infiltrating the activity of the group's Italian companies through contractors," the statement said.

Gas Natural said the Tribunal of Palermo had put under administration the following subsidiaries: Gas Natural Italia Spa, Gas Natural Distribuzione Italia Spa and Gas Natural Vendita Spa.

"These companies are collaborating with Italian authorities and understand this is a necessary process to rule out any (organised crime) activity in their business," a source close the company told Reuters.

Gas Natural's Italian division represented 1.8 percent of the company's 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation. (Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Tomas Cobos and Mark Potter)

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