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By Peter Dinkloh
FRANKFURT, April 23 (Reuters) - French utility GDF Suez GSZ.PA is bidding for German rival E.ON’s (EONGn.DE) stake in eastern German gas supplier Gasag to raise its share in the business to a majority, people familiar with the matter said.
GDF Suez, which already holds 32 percent in Berlin-based Gasag, faces competition from the municipal utility holding Thuega, which is also bidding for E.ON’s 37 percent stake, two people close to the matter told Reuters.
In addition, Thuega is seeking to buy the 32 percent stake in Gasag which Sweden’s Vattenfall [VATN.UL] is selling, the people said.
The bids value all of Gasag at 725 million euros ($974.5 million) at least, excluding debt, according to the people who declined to be identified as the bidding is confidential.
Vattenfall’s German unit and Thuega declined to comment, while GDF Suez and E.ON were not immediately available.
Russia’s Gazprom (GAZP.MM), the world’s largest natural gas company, is not bidding, one of the people said, even though the company is keen to get direct access to customers in the lucrative western European market.
Gasag operates Berlin’s gas network, Germany’s oldest, and sells gas, heat and power to customers in the capital and eastern Germany.
Gasag generated earnings before interest and taxes of 189 million euros on sales of 1.1 billion euros in 2009. (Writing by Peter Dinkloh)