E.ON Face Record Opposition To Proposed Ruhrgas Move

The German utility giant E.ON is preparing to face the opponents of its planned 6.2 billion-euro ($5.7 billion) takeover of Ruhrgas, Germany's largest natural gas company, in the biggest case of its kind in Europe's energy industry.

More than forty companies, including TXU, Statkraft, RWE and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, registered for a debate at the Economics Ministry on Wednesday. That is more than attended the European Commission hearing on General Electric's later-vetoed $47 billion takeover of the engineering group Honeywell International.

“A transaction like this will cause a fundamental upheaval of the German gas industry,” said Oliver Caspari, an analyst at Bankhaus Lampe. “This is a growth market, which is why so many companies are eager to have their say.”

Buying Ruhrgas would give E.ON more than sixty percent of the $20 billion gas distribution market in Germany, adding to its thirty eight percent share of the market for households. Rivals say that the acquisition would cripple competition just as the country's energy industry is supposed to be opening to increased rivalry.

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