CC slams Gas Natural’s Endesa takeover tactic

Endesa’s chief adviser and Clifford Chance partner Ignacio Ojanguren has criticised Gas Natural’s legal strategy following its failed hostile takeover attempt of Endesa.

Gas Natural instructed Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Jones Day at first, before bringing in firms including Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Linklaters and Lovells when E.ON entered the bidding.

Ojanguren said: “I think Gas Natural has added legal teams to its strategy as it became aware that they could not fulfil all its needs. It chose the firm for just one matter and didn’t expect the deal to get so complicated.

“I’m not sure that the initial firms were the best for all the necessary areas of law. I think that if Gas Natural had a firm such as Uría Menéndez or Garrigues at the beginning it would have just stayed with them.”

Sparks have flown in Spain between the two domestic energy giants after Gas Natural dropped its bid and publicly criticised the Endesa board for blocking its hostile takeover.

The company had originally put forward an offer of ?22.7bn (£15.24bn) for Endesa in September 2005, but was unable to match E.ON’s ?41bn (£27.52bn) takeover bid.

Gas Natural has released a public statement saying: “Since the presentation of
Gas Natural’s offer, Endesa’s board of directors decided to obstruct it, without giving its shareholders the opportunity to freely decide.”

Gas Natural now intends to sue Endesa for damages. It stated: “Gas Natural firmly believes that this situation is not in accordance with law.”

Meanwhile, Endesa shareholders are due to vote on E.ON’s offer at a special meeting on 20 March. Perez-Llorca is advising E.ON in Spain.