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Germany’s Saarbruecken mulls sale of power company

The German city of Saarbruecken is to examine the sale of its power company this week, a lawyer responsible for the process said on Tuesday.

Saarbruecken is the latest German city to consider selling its local power group as energy companies come under pressure from Berlin and Brussels to cut prices. The western German city of Wuppertal on Monday said it plans to sell about a third in its local utility to GDF Suez’ Electrabel unit for some €300 million ($441.4 million). Christian Held, the lawyer appointed by Saarbruecken to examine a sale, and representatives of the city plan to decide this week whether to recommend selling a stake to a private investor. “We plan to give a recommendation for one of the four concepts by Monday,” Held told Reuters.

The city of Saarbruecken is considering selling 49% of the local utility, which had annual sales of some €140 million ($206 million) in 2006, in the face of tighter profits. The city has invited bids for the business and three would-be buyers are left in the process, Held said.

In 2000, the city sold a majority stake in the energy sales division of the utility to Belgium peer Electrabel, now a unit of GDF Suez. The remainder of the municipal utility operates the local energy grids, supplies water and has an energy services unit. German utilities RWE and MVV both have said they would be bidding for a stake in the utility. (Reuters)