Electrabel, which dominates Belgian electricity generation, transmission and distribution, has reached an agreement with the country's government to sell most of its transmission activity.
Electrabel, which is 40% owned by France's Suez through its Tractable subsidiary, is to sell 30% of its transmission activity to Belgian local authorities who are already involved in its distribution business. An additional 40% will be sold on the stock exchange by 2003.
Electrabel is directly or indirectly responsible for 90% of Belgium's power production, the entire national grid and, in cooperation with local authorities, all distribution to private homes. Both the government and the European Commission are keen to speed liberalization and to reduce Electrabel's hold on the Belgian market to between 40% and 50% within five years. Last year, Suez bought generating assets in Poland, Hungary and Italy from Tractable, and purchased 80% of Epon, the biggest power producer in the Netherlands.
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