THE light blue rubber wristband Endesa chief executive Rafael Miranda was sporting for the London leg of last week’s roadshow looked slightly out of place – more the kind of adornment you would expect to see on an earnest, politically correct musician (Coldplay’s Chris Martin say), than on a man oozing the refinement of Spain’s business class.
But the wristband, made by employees of the Spanish power giant last October after local rival Gas Natural’s E21.3-a-share hostile bid, is a reminder of just how political the bid is in Spain. It pits Gas Natural, a creature of the powerful Barcelona region, backed by the Socialist government, against the once all-powerful Madrid establishment.
After the Gas Natural offer was launched, employees had adopted the slogan of Endesa’s publicity campaign, “Pon Endesa en tu corazon”, or, “Put Endesa in your heart”, and made the bracelets.
Miranda told The Business last week: “It was at the beginning when the Gas Natural bid was really heavy. Everyone thought, ‘it will happen, it will happen’. Now the situation is different.”
He laughs at the understatement. In the nine months since Gas Natural launched its bid, Endesa, helped by a counter offer of E29.1bn ($37bn; £19.9bn) made by German utility Eon, has turned the tables on its rival. Gas Natural’s bid enjoyed such strong support from the Spanish government that ministers overruled Spain’s competition tribunal when it said the bid was uncompetitive.
When Germany’s Eon waded in with a E27.5-a-share cash counter offer, the government retroactively changed the law so Eon’s bid had to be approved by the National Energy Commission, a body almost completely under the thumb of the government.
Miranda has every reason to be pleased with himself.
He says: “We have demonstrated that, first of all, the offer from Gas Natural was very poor, it was very low. If we hadn’t done what we’ve done during this past nine months – the legal battle, promoting a competing offer – probably our shareholders would have been obliged to sell at E21.3 a share. We have clearly demonstrated this company is worth more than E30 a share and shareholders now have an offer of E27.5.”….