By Julien Ponthus and Tassilo Hummel
PARIS (Reuters) – An association of EDF staffers and shareholders seeking a higher price for the French utility’s planned buyout said on Wednesday it had filed a criminal complaint linked to the management of the debt-laden company.
The French government, which already controls 84% of EDF shares, announced in July it would nationalise EDF and lawmakers in August approved 9.7 billion euros ($9.69 billion) in financing for a takeover at 12 euros per share.
EDF, which holds more than 40 billion euros of debt, floated in 2005 at a price of 32 euros per share.
A number of EDF shareholders argue it is unfair to ask them foot the bill for a government decision to shield consumers from skyrocketing energy prices, a policy for which EDF is claiming 8.3 billion euros in compensation from the state.
The complaint filed by the association Energie en action with prosecutors in Paris alleges that EDF, since it went public, has been forced to pursue general or individual interests at the detriment of its own.
It said in a statement the aim of the complaint is to “shed light on the modalities of the State’s intervention and the ambiguity of its role in the management”.
It is also considering additional legal means to stop the nationalisation being carried out at its current price, the association said.
An EDF spokesman declined to comment.
A source close to the company said it was likely the criminal complaint would have no impact on the price of the process of the buyout.
EDF shares are currently trading at 11.95 euros, a price which suggests merger arbitrage funds expect the offer to be successful at its current price of 12 euros.
The government is expected to lodge its formal takeover offer at the French financial markets regulator imminently.
($1 = 1.0015 euros)
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Tassilo Hummel; editing by Jason Neely)