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New Atel / EOS energy group

Swiss and European Union (EU) competition authorities have granted unconditional approval to the disposal by UBS of its majority shareholding in Motor-Columbus to a predominantly Swiss-owned consortium, as well as to the planned merger of Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity (Atel) in Olten (Switzerland) with EOS SA, Lausanne (Switzerland).

Both the Swiss and EU authorities reviewed the competitive aspects of the sale announced by UBS on 30 September 2005 of its majority shareholding in Motor-Columbus to a consortium, as well as the planned Atel/EOS merger. Their conclusion was that the resulting Switzerland based pan-European energy company would not adopt a position of market hegemony. Both authorities thus granted unconditional approval to corresponding applications by the purchasing companies. The consortium consists of Swiss minority shareholders in Atel – EBM (Elektra Birseck, Münchenstein), EBL (Elektra Baselland, Liestal), Canton Solothurn, IBAarau – along with newcomers AIL (Aziende Industriali di Lugano SA) and WWZ (Wasserwerke Zug AG). The other partners in the consortium are EOS Holding in Lausanne, EDF of France, and Atel itself.

Major precondition met The purchasing companies have warmly greeted the decision, which establishes one major precondition for implementing the agreements. Provided all of the other conditions are fulfilled as well, and that official bodies at the respective purchasing companies give their approval, then closure on the transaction is expected towards the end of the first quarter of 2006.   About the transaction: a look back at September / October 2005 Negotiations on the sale of a 55.6% shareholding in Motor-Columbus were successfully concluded by the signing of a purchase agreement with UBS on 29 September 2005. Partners in the deal, and their apportionments of Motor-Columbus share capital, are as follows: a consortium of Swiss minority shareholders in Atel – EBM (Elektra Birseck, Münchenstein), EBL (Elektra Baselland, Liestal), Canton Solothurn, IBAarau – along with newcomers AIL (Aziende Industriali di Lugano SA) and WWZ (Wasserwerke Zug AG) are buying 14.7%; EOS Holding in Lausanne is buying 16.4% and EDF of France is buying 17.3%; the remaining 7.2% will be acquired by Atel. The partners have agreed to establish a sustainable, independent company with an equalised shareholder structure that is also open to additional partners.

Step by step to a new company Following closure on the deal, the partners have agreed to merge Motor-Columbus and Atel into a single company within the first six months of 2006. Thereafter, the new company is to be integrated within a new holding structure that will additionally incorporate the activities and assets of EOS. Holding company headquarters will be in Neuchatel, executive management in Olten. EDF has given a similar firm commitment to examine a full range of options for optimising its activities in Switzerland within the framework of the new company. These steps are expected to be completed within approximately the next two years.

On the way to being a leader in the energy business Within Switzerland’s electricity industry, this move means the companies concerned are laying the foundations for a strong energy company in the western region of the country. With its largely complementary portfolio of activities, the new company will be providing energy services throughout Europe and taking a strong market position in Switzerland, where it will assure lasting independence for energy supplies to northwest and western Switzerland in particular. The new company, with around 8,800 employees, will generate turnover approaching CHF 10 billion. Consolidated European energy sales in excess of 120 TWh will be twice as high as Switzerland’s own annual consumption. Until the merger is completed, EOS Holding and Atel will continue their development along existing strategic lines.

Motor-Columbus Ltd., Baden
Having enjoyed a long and colourful history since the advent of universal electrification, Motor-Columbus Ltd. concentrated on serving as a pure financial holding company, domiciled in Baden (AG), about 10 years ago. Next to several finance and real estate companies, the companies operating in the energy industry are bracketed together in the Atel Group (Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity). Motor-Columbus Ltd. holds a 58.5% stake in Atel.

Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity (Atel)
Aare-Tessin Ltd. for Electricity (Atel) is the leading production-based energy service provider in Switzerland and operates at a pan-European level. Founded in 1894, Atel focuses on the two core businesses of production-based Energy Trading and Energy Services. The group of companies, domiciled in Olten, employs a staff of around 8400 and generated a turnover of CHF 8.6 billion in 2005. Its main markets in the energy sector are Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the Central and Eastern European countries. Its goods and services range from portfolio management and group energy supplies, to energy derivatives and option contracts, to establishing distribution concepts involving other partners. Trading and distribution are supported by a number of proprietary hydraulic and thermal power stations plus a broadly ramified transmission grid. With its Energy Services Division, Atel provides all technical services pertaining to energy (electricity, gas, oil and biomass) and its uses as power, lighting, cooling and heating, communication and security. Atel is among the leading providers of Energy Services in both Switzerland and Germany.

EOS Holding Ltd., Lausanne
EOS Holding is a strategic holding of the major power stations and distributors in Western Switzerland. It emerged in 2002 from the company Energie de l'ouest-suisse (EOS), itself founded in 1919. With its three business units Energy, Transport and Commerce & Trading, the holding focusses on the three key areas of hydro-power generation, high and highest voltage transmission and marketing of electricity in Switzerland and abroad for its own account and on behalf of its shareholders. Its production park in Switzerland, 85% of which consists of hydroelectric power sta-tions, is one of the most flexible in Europe. The holding, domiciled in Lausanne, employs a staff of around 554, including those at HYDRO Exploitation Ltd.