26 May 2013, News Wires – Italian oil giant Eni could splash out on more companies in Belgium as it looks to close the gap on power retail leader in the country, GDF Suez-owned Electrabel, according to a report.
Eni’s chief executive also admitted the company overpaid in its purchase of Distrigas in Belgium, but only seen in the context of a post-2008 global economic meltdown, according to an interview in Belgian newspaper, De Tijd.
Eni bought a majority share in Distrigas for around $4.3 million from French utility Suez in the middle of 2008, months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank and the onset of a global financial crisis. A year later it had full control of the company following a buyout of all remaining shares.
Asked if the company was considering organic growth or further acquisitions in Belgium, Scaroni told the newspaper: “Both. After (the financial crisis) and at a fair price, we may be able to do similar acquisitions in the future. ”
Scaroni said Eni has clear ambitions in the power market in Belgium, continuing: “We want to be number two in the retail market. Now we have 640,000 customers. That must be one million by 2016.”
The media-savvy chief executive also said he has confidence in the oil price in the near term but said he can see it going down further out.
“The price of oil is affected by the economic activity in the world. And for the first time in years I have got some confidence. On Monday I was in the UK and I felt positive signals, good news about the economy… In the longer term, however, I believe that oil prices will fall.”
Scaroni added, however: “But keep in mind there is not too much. I usually err in my predictions of oil prices.”