The Financial Markets Authority (AMF) gave the green light on Tuesday to the plan to take over the energy company EDF launched in early October by theFrench State, which already holds 84% of the company’s capital. The AMF has deemed the simplified takeover bid (OPA) project, filed on October 4, “compliant” with stock market rules, it said in a press release published on Tuesday evening.
This project provides for the acquisition from other shareholders of the 16% of the capital that the State does not yet hold, at a price of 12 euros per share. The acquisition of these securities is supposed to take place until December 8 and the AMF did not mention Tuesday evening a change in the schedule. It intends to publish “its reasoned decision as soon as possible”.
The State shareholder hopes to obtain, at the closing of the takeover bid, 90% of the capital, the threshold from which a procedure of compulsory withdrawal from the Stock Exchange can be launched to recover securities.
The government had formalized in mid-July its desire to control 100% of the French energy company. For the State, which wants to build six new generation EPR nuclear reactors, with an option for eight others, this operation amounted to 9.7 billion euros is strategic and also aims to send a signal of confidence to debt investors.
EDF is experiencing financial difficulties due to a record decline in its electricity production, a consequence of the unavailability of part of its nuclear fleet due to corrosion problems, scheduled maintenance and a social movement, but also in because of the tariff shield which protects the French from excessive increases in the price of energy.
A debt of up to 60 billion euros
In total in 2022, this fall in production will affect EDF’s profitability, weighing up to 32 billion euros on gross operating surplus (Ebitda), and the group’s debt could reach the record total amount. of 60 billion euros at the end of the year.
Since the start of the operation, small shareholders (mostly employees and former employees) have contested the “favourable” opinion issued on October 27 by the board of directors regarding the renationalisation of the group at the price of 12 euros per share and claim at least 15 euros.
They have filed several legal actions, without having been successful until now. Last step to date, they took EDF to court on Monday for breaches of information obligations and a conflict of interest concerning the current president of the group.
“We are not going to stop there”
“We are extremely disappointed that the AMF did not take into account all the arguments that we could develop, both in substance and in form”, reacted to AFP Martine Faure, leader of these small shareholders, denouncing “a complete undervaluation of the company”.
According to her, the independent expert who deemed the price of 12 euros “fair” was based on “bad assumptions”, in particular with regard to the volume and price of electricity that EDF will sell at low prices. to its competitors next year.
“What is our recourse today, at the French level, in relation to that? We are looking, we are not going to stop there, anyway, ”promised Ms. Faure, who also plans to fight at European level.