April 13, 2008 / 12:55 PM / 12 years ago

ENI makes best offer for Distrigaz -Belgian paper

BRUSSELS, April 13 (Reuters) - Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) has made the best offer so far for a 57 percent stake in Belgium’s main natural gas distributor Distrigaz DISTy.BR, which is being sold by France’s Suez LYOE.PA, a Belgian newspaper said.

Suez said on Friday it would announce before its merger with Gaz de France GAZ.PA, which of EDF (EDF.PA), E.ON EONG.DE or ENI it had picked to buy the stake.

“According to our information, the last (ENI) has put forward the best offer,” Belgium’s Le Soir said in its weekend edition.

It said the bidders still had several weeks to refine their bids, but ENI nevertheless benefited from the “favour” of the Belgian government. The paper did not give a source.

Last month, Suez shortlisted ENI, EDF, and E.ON as potential buyers of its Distrigaz stake, which it agreed to sell to meet European Union competition concerns about its planned merger with Gaz de France.

Suez Chief Executive Gerard Mestrallet said on Friday that a deal, under which Suez will swap the stake for industrial assets of one of the three bidders, will be completed only after the GDF Suez merger has been completed.

He reiterated that the company still expected that merger to go ahead before the end of June.

The Belgian electricity group SPE has said it still wants to merge with Distrigaz, despite being excluded from Suez’s shortlist of bidders. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom, editing by Will Waterman)

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