Offers open until June at British Energy

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The Independent Online

British Energy will not announce the results of its search for a buyer until at least next month, despite Friday's bid deadline.

A source close to the sale, which was triggered by the Government's decision to dispose of its 35.2 per cent stake, said that the deadline was "soft". EDF, the French energy giant, was the only group to bid on time, but British Energy will accept late offers. RWE and Suez are among those still mulling a bid, while British giant Centrica is hoping to join a consortium, perhaps even tying up with EDF at a later stage.

It is understood that EDF bid just below 700p per share. British Energy trades slightly above that mark, valuing the company at around £11bn.

An industry source said EDF is now the front-runner, especially in the light of its nuclear experience, which is one of British Energy's key growth areas: "The Government wants this deal done and by people who know about nuclear and take it seriously."

EDF and British Energy declined to comment.