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Endesa hires former PM Aznar as advisor

Source: Reuters - Tue 11th Jan 2011

Spanish power company Endesa said on Tuesday it had hired a former prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, as an advisor, to help it negotiate tough up-and-coming regulation.

links to Spain's conservative Popular Party were well known. The company's former chairman Manuel Pizarro was also a member of parliament for the PP.

The move followed the appointment of Felipe Gonzalez, Spain's first Socialist Prime Minister, to Gas Natural's board, in December.

Gonzalez and Aznar were arch parliamentary enemies in the 1990s and both remain highly influential in their respective parties even after stepping down.

They could help the companies overcome regulatory problems facing Spain's partially liberalised power sector, which is faced with fixed power tariffs that do not cover energy costs in many cases.

Pizarro is known for openly opposing Gas Natural's hostile takeover bid for Endesa in 2006 - which had the backing of the Socialist government - in favour of a better offer from German group E.ON. Endesa was finally sold to a consortium of Italian group Enel and Spanish energy group Acciona in 2007.

Gas Natural is in a legal battle over gas prices with Algerian state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach, where Gonzalez's 14 years of experience as Spain's prime minister could help with diplomatic issues surrounding the spat.

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