Franco-German energy firm seen focused on renewables: sources

Tue Jan 14, 2014 3:20pm EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - A French-German joint initiative in the energy sector announced by President Francois Hollande is likely to focus on renewable energy but is not aimed at forging alliances between major utilities firms, political and industrial sources said.

Hollande surprised markets on Tuesday with a reference to the creation of a Franco-German joint venture energy company modeled on European aviation group Airbus, but sources told Reuters that French state-controlled utility EDF and German energy major E.ON had not been consulted about a major cooperation initiative.

"We are very satisfied with Airbus," Hollande told a news conference. "The idea is to make a big French-German company for the energy transition."

The announcement was one of an avalanche of new-sounding proposals put out by Hollande, determined to seize back the news agenda from allegations that he is having an affair with an actress.

A French government source told Reuters that Hollande wants concrete proposals for cooperation in the renewable energy sector at joint French-German cabinet meeting scheduled for a February 19.

"The president wants to encourage French and German companies in the area of energy transition, and to bring together some of our industrial capacities," the source said.

No major operation is planned or imminent, he added.

A French business source said the cooperation would likely involve the French-German Office for Renewable Energies (L'Office franco-allemand pour les energies renouvelables), an initiative put in motion by former energy ministers Peter Altmaier and Delphine Batho last summer.

The sacking of Batho shortly after the meeting and the German coalition talks have delayed the initiative, but with new energy ministers in place in both countries, the initiative will get new impetus, the source said.   Continued...