Investors unhappy with GDF Suez plans

Shares in GDF Suez plunged by over 14 percent on Thursday after the French-based energy group announced a vast restructuring plan that aims to cut its debt by a third in the next two years.

The company's shares were down by 14.15 percent to 14.80 euros in morning trading on the Paris stock exchange that was up 0.52 percent overall.

GDF Suez chief executive Gerard Mestrallet said that the plan, announced the previous evening after markets closed, could be achieved without
job cuts.

The company is targeting 3.5 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in savings by 2015 and aims to reduce its debt by a third to 30 billion euros by the end of 2014.

"GDF Suez is in the process of transforming itself from a traditional European utility to a leading global actor in the energy market," said Mestrallet.

GDF Suez is the top independent electricity producer in the world and is also a leading natural gas distributer and provider of water and waste services.

The natural gas market is still regulated in France and the company estimated that it lost 185 million euros in the second half of this year due to a price cap that has since been ruled illegal.

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France backs down over Nordstream II gas pipe

France and Germany have struck a compromise allowing Berlin to remain the lead negotiator with Russia on the Nord Stream II gas pipeline to Europe, a proposed deal showed on Friday.

France backs down over Nordstream II gas pipe
Russian energy group Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller delivers a speech during a signing ceremony for the Nord Stream 2. Photo: ERIC PIERMONT / AFP
France had said it would support European Union oversight of new offshore energy pipelines in a move that could have crippled the undersea pipeline plans between Russia and Germany.
But the two EU countries have now agreed to ensure oversight will come from the “territory and territorial sea of the member state where the first interconnection point is located,” according to a copy of the draft obtained by AFP.
Work has already started on the pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea to the end-point in Griefswald, Germany. 
The draft text replaces the older wording stating the EU rules on gas imports will be applied by “the territory of the member states” and or the “territorial sea of the member states”.
The draft compromise was submitted to a meeting of the EU ambassadors discussing a revision of gas market rules for the 28-nation bloc, diplomats said.
Nord Stream 2 faces opposition from many countries in eastern and central Europe, the United States and particularly Ukraine because it risks increasing Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas.
Combined with the planned TurkStream pipeline across the Black Sea, Nord Stream 2 would mean Russia could also bypass Ukraine in providing gas to Europe, robbing Moscow's new foe of transit fees and a major strategic asset.
The draft compromise addressed the concerns saying: “We consider a (gas rules) directive in this spirit indispensable for a fruitful discussion on the future gas transit through Ukraine.” 
A French diplomatic source had told AFP on Thursday Paris was “not for or against Nord Stream 2”. 
But the source said France sought “guarantees for the security of Europe and for the security and stability of Ukraine”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic project” that will ensure cheaper, more reliable gas supplies.
READ ALSO: Putin and Merkel defend Nord Stream pipeline    
Construction has already begun, involving companies such as Germany's Wintershall and Uniper, Dutch-British Shell, France's Engie and Austria's OMV.
Below is a map prepared by picture agency DPA showing the pipeline's route.