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French government to sell 3.1pc stake in GDF Suez

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Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of GDF Suez. Photographer: Kosuke Okahara/Bloomberg

Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of GDF Suez. Photographer: Kosuke Okahara/Bloomberg

Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of GDF Suez. Photographer: Kosuke Okahara/Bloomberg

The French government has agreed to sell a 3.1pc stake in gas utility GDF Suez, and could sell as much as 3.6pc in order to finance the acquisition of a state participation in engineering group Alstom.

The finance and economy ministries said that the state, through its public holding firm APE, had agreed to sell 75 million GDF Suez shares and has an overallotment option to sell as many as 86 million shares in an accelerated institutional placement. "This sale is part of an active management of state holdings. . . the proceeds could be used to finance the state's entry into the capital of Alstom," the statement said.

On Sunday, the French state secured an option to buy 20pc of Alstom from its top shareholder Bouygues, clearing the way for an agreed tie-up between Alstom and General Electric. Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said earlier yesterday the state had enough cash available from previous share sales to fund the purchase of the Alstom stake.

The French government is the lead shareholder in GDF Suez and had a 36.71pc stake in the firm at the end of 2013, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reuters)

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