French prime minister wants to privatize Electricite de France

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday that he wants to privatize Electricite de France "as soon as possible." However, he declined to say if the initial public offering will take place this fall, according to government plans. He did say that there are no plans to postpone the IPO until after the presidential and legislative elections of spring 2007.

"The company needs investments. It needs Ђ30 billion (US$36 billion) in the next three years, so it needs a capital increase," Villepin said on Europe-1 radio.

Villepin also said the government expects EdF to put in place "a true investment plan, focused on France," adding that he wants the French state to sign a public service contract with the company in the next few days. According to local press reports this week, this contract could demand additional investments from the French utility, which announced a capital expenditure plan of 26 billion (US$31.2 billion) over 2006-2018.

Finance Minister Thierry Breton refused to pin down a date for the IPO, reports the AP. I.L.

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