Oh We Are The Champions

Yes we are really, aren’t we. Especially if we are called Arcelor, or Danone, or Endesa, or Eni, or Enel, or Banca Antonveneta or Pekao. And what these champions have in common, and it is this which sets them so much apart from their footballing equivalents, is not the ability to win anything, but rather their capacity to lose, especially in a take-over battle from a foreign pretender. And just for this very reason it is, it seems, ok for you to include the referee in your line-up. Indeed such is the sporting prowess of these ‘champions’ that it is deemed that what they are most in need of is not the cold harsh wind of competition, but rather protection, and indeed protectionism, anything rather than face outright competition from would-be global rivals. A rare breed of champions these.

I think before I go further, I would like to draw attention to one idea which holds us all together here at Afoe:

Purity of race does not exist. Europe is a continent of energetic mongrels. – H.A.L. Fisher
Continue reading

Spain Is Now Over The Radar

It all started with the Catalan Statute, then there was this piece, then Wolfgang Munchau joined in. Today comes the news that:

The European Union’s top competition regulator will this week issue formal antitrust charges against Telefónica, alleging that the Spanish telecommunications group has abused its dominant position in the fast-growing market for broadband services.

And there is the situation with the takeover bid from the German group Eon for the Spanish utility company Endesa (full copy here):

ImageEon, Germany’s biggest power group, on Tuesday launched a €29bn cash offer for Spain’s Endesa, raising prospects of renewed consolidation in Europe’s energy sector.

If Eon succeeds it would be the word’s largest utility deal, valuing Endesa at €55bn, including debt and minority interests. It would create the world’s biggest utility with 50m customers across 30 countries in Europe and the Americas.

But the move, which trumps a rival bid from Gas Natural, threatened to disrupt Spanish efforts to create a national champion in the power sector and presented a challenge to Brussels just days after it announced an antitrust crackdown in the energy sector.

The curtain is about to be drawn like never before on Spain’s inner ‘boudoir’. Let’s just hope that everything which is to be found there makes for suitable public viewing.