Duke Energy Corp., the second- largest U.S. utility owner, wants to expand in Europe by acquiring power plants and other assets, countering a retreat by rivals such as Dynegy Inc. and Mirant Corp., an executive said.
The North Carolina based company, which today bought a French power station from a unit of Air Liquide SA, has a team of mergers- and-acquisition specialists in London searching for the appropriate energy assets, said Duke Europe Chief Executive Officer Peter Wilt in a telephone interview.
``We have a very large effort underway to look at assets in the U.K. and all over Europe,'' Wilt said. ``Asset values were very high when we came to the market two years ago and have been falling ever since. The question is how long they will remain there.''
The collapse of Enron in December and the subsequent financing crunches at rivals Dynegy, Williams Cos. and NRG Energy Inc. has both reduced competition at auctions for energy assets and resulted in more European businesses coming up for sale.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969