Italy’s government approved a decree today forcing Eni SpA (ENI) to cede its entire stake in gas-network operator Snam SpA (SRG) to increase competition and cut prices.
The decree gives Italy’s biggest energy company 18 months to reduce its stake in Snam, according to an e-mailed statement from Prime Minister Mario Monti’s office. Rome-based Eni, which has a 52 percent stake in Snam, must give up no less than 25.1 percent to state-run lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA and sell the rest of its shares to investors.
The decision ends years of haggling between Eni and antitrust authorities on the need to open up Italy’s gas- pipeline network to greater competition. European Union regulators have accused Eni of distorting natural-gas flows by blocking access to pipelines and preventing fuel from reaching the highest-priced market. Last year, Eni agreed to sell its stakes in its TENP, Transitgas and TAG pipelines to settle European Union antitrust charges.
Both Eni and Cassa Depositi’s boards will examine the terms of the sale on May 30, the two companies said in separate statements.
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