Green light for Texas in Energy battle

A pounds 4bn bid battle for Energy Group, owner of Eastern Electricity, moved a step closer last night after US regulators cleared Texas Utilities, the Dallas-based power group, to launch a takeover offer. Texas said it had been given approval to bid for Energy Group following a meeting with the Texas Public Utility Commission, the state utility watchdog, on condition that it supplied the regulator with additional confidential documents. The group needed permission to invest 30 per cent or more of its capital overseas.

Meanwhile, Texas has stepped up its political lobbying drive in the UK in an attempt to avoid an investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC). PacifiCorp, another US utility, was last year cleared to bid by the MMC and has launched a raised 765p a share offer valuing Energy Group at pounds 4.06bn.

Jarrell Gibbs, Texas' deputy chairman, met with Geoffrey Norris, special adviser to the Prime Minister, earlier this week and argued that a rival offer should not be referred to the MMC. Yesterday Mr Gibbs intensified the lobbying effort, meeting Martin O'Neill, chairman of the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee.

In a statement Texas confirmed it was still in discussions with Energy Group management, adding that any offer would have to "compare favourably" with PacifiCorp's. The comments lifted Energy Group shares 3.5p higher to 774p.

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