The renationalization of EDF and its exit from the stock market will not be without problems for the State, which holds nearly 84% of the capital of the electrician. Indeed, the association Energie en actions, which brings together employee shareholders and former employees of EDF, has decided to file a complaint against the latter. She made it known yesterday, Sunday July 17, by way of a press release.
The association thus explains “introduce a criminal complaint with a civil action against the State as majority shareholder of EDF for putting the company in difficulty in disregard of its social interest and the interests of its minority shareholders, because of ill-considered and dispossessing decisions”.
“Spoliation” of savers
“Today the State must be accountable for the management exercised as the ultra-majority shareholder of the company, management which has the consequence of seriously robbing a large number of savers”, considers the association.
As a reminder, on July 6, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne formalized the State’s desire to fully renationalize EDF, which is currently in great financial difficulty. To carry out this operation as quickly as possible, the executive will go through market mechanisms. He will thus launch a takeover bid, followed by a squeeze-out to acquire some 16% of the capital that he does not hold in EDF.
Currently, just over 15% of the capital is held by individual and institutional shareholders, while employee shareholders hold just over 1% of the capital.
“Dizzying fall” of the action and soaring debt
To withdraw EDF from the rating, the State will have to convince enough shareholders to sell their shares to hold 90% of the capital. From this threshold, the shareholder (the French State in this case) then has the possibility of withdrawing the company from the Stock Exchange, because the securities remaining in the hands of the public are obligatorily contributed to a public squeeze-out offer ( OPRO), even if the remaining shareholders do not agree on the proposed price.
The challenge for the State is therefore to reach this threshold of 90%. Its only leverage to convince shareholders to sell their shares is the premium it can offer over its current price. The stakes around this bonus are not negligible. If it were deemed too low, it could provoke discontent from small shareholders, some of whom bought their shares at a high price.
“The seriousness of the damage inflicted on the company is illustrated by the vertiginous fall in the value of the share, the price of which fell from 32 euros when the capital was opened to the public at the end of 2005 to 7.4 euros at the time of the declaration on July 6, 2022 by the Prime Minister”, rightly points out the association of employee shareholders.
The plaintiffs also deplore “the no less dizzying increase in indebtedness”, which amounted to 43 billion euros at the end of 2021. In this escalation, they condemn in particular the Arenh mechanism (regulated access to historical nuclear electricity), which obliges EDF to sell part of its production nuclear energy at discounted prices to its competitors. This mechanism was put in place in 2010 under the Nome law, which opened up competition in the electricity supply market, wanted by Brussels in 1996.
The Arenh in the crosshairs
In 2012, the selling price of the Arenh was set at 42 euros per megawatt hour, but has never been reassessed since. A price which, today, no longer covers the production costs of the electrician. Jean-Bernard Lévy, the outgoing EDF boss, did not hesitate to call this mechanism a ” poison “ for the company.
In addition, last March, the government imposed on EDF, by decree, to increase by 20% the production of 100 terawatt hours (TWh) sold within the framework of the Arenh. A measure that should “cost” it dearly: 10 billion euros in shortfall over the year, according to the latest EDF estimates presented in early May. Enough to push Jean-Bernard Lévy, with whom relations had become strained, to file an informal appeal against the State.
Energie en actions also criticizes the shutdown of the two reactors of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which was permanently disconnected from the network on June 29, 2020. “closure imposed for purely political reasons”denounces the association, which stresses that “the protocol concluded between the State and EDF, supposed to compensate the company, has never been detailed to the shareholders despite various requests made “.
EDF title suspended
Finally, the plaintiffs denounce the pressure exerted by the State on EDF for the acquisition of several companies, such as Photowatt in 2012, then in receivership, or that, in the process of being finalized, of the Arabelle turbines of General Electric. The association also points to EDF’s participation in the rescue of Areva, on the verge of bankruptcy, with the takeover of an activity renamed Framatome, “Even though EDF had always refused to build power plant components “says the press release.
The title of EDF was suspended last Wednesday on the Paris Stock Exchange, the time to allow the State to specify, no later than Tuesday, July 19 before the opening of the Stock Exchange, the terms of the renationalization of the energy company . According to the amending finance bill, the State is ready to mobilize 12.7 billion euros for EDF, both for its nationalization, but also for other unspecified operations by the end of the year. year. The takeover of minority shareholders should already cost it between 6 and 7 billion euros, according to initial market estimates. A bill that is likely to be more salty, according to relatives of the file.