France's government has said that it will sell stakes in Electricite de France and Gaz de France, the state owned power and natural gas utilities that are valued by analysts at as much as a hundred billion euros.
The Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, in his opening address to parliament, did not say how many shares will be sold in each company or when the sales will take place. The French state will maintain a majority in both the companies, he said.
Selling the stakes may help ease criticism of France from neighbors who say the country is unfairly allowing its utilities to buy rivals abroad while retaining a lock on its home market. It would also enable the companies to raise funds to expand.
“They must be given the same weapons as their European competitors to fully benefit from the European energy market,” Raffarin told parliament. His government was named last month after national elections.