EDFplays down talk of asset swap plans

FRENCH energy firm EDF yesterday said it was not close to securing an asset swap deal with its German rival E.ON, and denied that it had plans to sell a further 20 per cent stake in British Energy.<br /><br />In May, EDF sold a 20 per cent stake in British Energy to Centrica for &euro;2.5bn (&pound;2.1bn), shortly after it acquired British Energy in September 2008 for &pound;13.6bn.<br /><br />The electricity generating group was understood to be mulling the sale of a further 20 per cent stake in British Energy. But it yesterday said that there were no such plans.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is not on the current agenda,&rdquo; an EDF spokeswoman said.<br /><br />EDF was also thought to be close to reaching a wide-ranging deal with E.ON to swap 800 megawatts worth of power generation assets in France and Germany, but yesterday it refused to comment on &ldquo;speculation&rdquo;.<br /><br />Such a swap would help E.ON enter the French nuclear power sector, and potentially alleviate pressure from European Commission regulators who are concerned about E.ON&rsquo;s market power in Germany. <br /><br />EDF said in May that it was talks with E.ON over several matters, including a possible asset swap. <br /><br />But yesterday an EDF spokeswoman declined to comment on whether an asset swap was imminent, saying only that talks with E.ON were ongoing on &ldquo;multiple topics&rdquo;.<br /><br />Any asset swap or further British Energy stake sale would be part of EDF&rsquo;s ongoing effort to reduce its &euro;37bn debt pile, analysts said.<br /><br />In February, the French firm said it planned to sell &euro;5bn worth of assets by the end of 2010 to ease its debt burden.