by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) April 23, 2013
French energy company GDF Suez said Tuesday that its first-quarter sales edged higher while core earnings had fallen, in part owing to a difficult economic climate and the suspension of a Belgian nuclear reactor.
GDF Suez sales were 2.3 percent stronger at 24.6 billion euros ($31.9 billion), a statement said, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) fell by 5.1 percent to 5.0 billion euros, a drop that became a more modest 1.2 percent on an organic basis that strips out foreign exchange effects and recent acquisitions or divestments.
The group's net debt also declined meanwhile, by 2.5 billion euros to 34.1 billion euros.
GDF emphasised that the results were in line with its own guidance provided in late December.
Like many European power companies, GDF has seen business fall off as economic activity continues to drag across the continent. It also operates several gas-powered generators that have been overtaken by coal-fired units.
In Belgium, one of the group's two nuclear power plants has been suspended, though GDF hopes for approval to bring it back online by the end of June.
Finally, GDF confirmed news that it gave first on April 11, that it would reorganise activities in France, including mothballing for an undetermined period one its four gas-powered electricity stations in France, while two others will operate only in the winter.
The shale gas boom in the United States has led to a fall in demand there for coal, much which has ended up in Europe where it has made coal-fired electricity plants more competitive.
Shares in GDF Suez climbed 1.7 percent to 16.18 euros in afternoon trading.
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