Scottish Power bid for Manweb should go to MMC, rival says

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

John Baker, the chairman of National Power, yesterday called for Scottish Power's pounds 1bn bid for Manweb to be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Scottish Power, which launched its bid on Monday, attacked Mr Baker, saying that the takeover would, if anything, increase competition.

It also emerged that Scottish Power bought a further 1.82 million shares in Manweb, bringing its stake to 9 per cent. Manweb's share price fell by 2p to 915p yesterday, which matches the cash alternative in the bid.

Mr Baker, who was speaking at National Power's annual general meeting, said that the takeover "raises regulatory issues", but did not elaborate. He also said his company is unlikely to emerge as a bidder for one of the 12 regional electricity firms in England and Wales. "In principle, we are not interested in expanding our exposure to the UK regulatory regime. Secondly, I very much doubt whether competition authorities would allow us to," he said.

Manweb is the third company to become a target. South Western Electricity is the subject of a pounds 1bn takeover attempt by Southern Electric International of the US. Northern Electric is braced for a renewed bid by Trafalgar House after the lapse of an offer at pounds 11 per share in March.

The Consumers Association yesterday joined the fray, asking all bidders to say what they would do for customers. Philip Cullum, the CA's policy manager, said: "So much attention is focused on shareholders, but the bottom line should be whether they are going to give good value to customers."

Speculation over further takeovers and mergers coincided with a stark warning from the all party Trade and Industry Select Committee of big problems in the competitive electricity marketplace.

The Government plans to end the 12 regional monopolies over domestic customers in 1998 but there is growing concern that too little preparation is taking place.

Richard Caborn, chairman of the committee, said: "Government proposals to open up the electricity market in 1998 are a shambles and could bring disruption to the industry.

"The committee was astonished by the complete failure of the Government and the regulator, Offer, to prepare for liberalisation. The proposals have not been thought through and could represent a disaster in the making."

The committee wants an extensive trial - such as that planned for the gas market in 1996 and 1997 - before the market is fully liberalised.

Mr Caborn said there is a need for regulatory reform before the market is opened, with more power for consumer groups and a duty on the regulator to justify its decisions. He added that there is a "compelling case" for joint regulation of electricity and gas supply.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there