(Changes dateline, adds details, background)
PARIS/LONDON Jan 17 French utility GDF Suez
GSZ.PA is eyeing a tie-up with Britain's International Power
IPR.L, with the Sunday Times saying a takeover bid is on the
cards, while France's Wansquare said the link would take another
Rumours about a GDF approach for International Power have
been around for months and on Friday, when International Power
shares hit a 15-month high, both companies declined comment.
A spokesman for GDF Suez did not return calls on Sunday.
International Power has a market value of some 5 billion
pounds ($8.17 billion) and rose 20 percent in the past three
months, while GDF Suez has an equity value of 64 billion euros
The Sunday Times said talks intensified in the weeks before
Christmas with direct calls between Gerard Mestrallet of GDF
Suez and International Power chief executive Philip Cox.
The paper said GDF has appointed Rothschild, BNP Paribas
(BNPP.PA) and Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to work on the deal while
International Power had not yet appointed an adviser.
Wansquare said Rothschild et Associes banker Gregoire
Chertok was working on the transaction.
Instead of a cash or paper bid for the group, there could be
another transaction involving assets "less costly and yielding
immediate synergies," the online news service said.
Wansquare is a joint venture of the Le Figaro newspaper and
the Journal des Finances.
The U.K. power group delivers energy under contract to some
4 million households. It has 45 power plants in Europe, the
United States, Asia and the Middle East.
The French state has a 35.6 percent stake in GDF Suez which
was formed through the 2008 merger of Suez and state-owned gas
group GDF. Belgium's GBL (GBLB.BR), controlled by Albert Frere,
has a 5.3 percent stake.
GDF Suez has a limited presence in Britain but is the world
leader as Independent Power Producer, the number one electricity
group in Belgium and second in France behind EDF (EDF.PA). It is
the number five producer and supplier of power in Europe and the
number one importer and buyer of LNG gas.
EDF has branched out to Britain with its 12.5 billion pound
buy of British Energy last year.
(Reporting by Marcel Michelson; Editing by Erica Billingham)