Full EDF takeover suspended by market watchdog pending minority shareholder lawsuit
PARIS, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The AMF market watchdog has put the French state's full takeover of energy giant EDF (EDF.PA) on hold until a Paris court decides on the merits of a lawsuit challenging the deal brought by minority shareholders, EDF confirmed on Thursday.
The French government, which intends to fully nationalise its debt-laden nuclear champion, last Friday cleared the bar needed for triggering squeeze-out proceedings when it announced it controls around 93% of voting rights, but later said it would not push ahead with the buyout until the court ruling.
EDF on Thursday confirmed this decision in a press release, saying it had decided on Wednesday that the buyout would be closed until the ruling, expected by May 2.
However, this does not affect any of EDF's activities in the near-term, an industry source said.
For example, a final investment decision on the Sizewell C reactor is still expected at the end of the year.
The state had committed to proceed with the squeeze-out should the court clear the deal, and to return securities acquired through the bid so far if minority shareholders win their bid to cancel the deal, EDF said.
"In the event that the French State decides to file an amended draft simplified public tender offer ... at a more favourable price as a result and following the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal, to pay an additional price to shareholders and/or holders of OCEANEs [bonds]", it said.
The group of minority shareholders which brought the case argued the price offered to EDF shareholders was too low.
The government last year offered minority shareholders 12 euros per share, still a 53% premium to the company's trading value at the time after EDF had suffered various setbacks including unplanned reactor outages, delays and cost overruns in building new plants, and government-imposed power tariff caps.
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