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GDF Suez Takes Government to Court Over Natural Gas Prices

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- GDF Suez SA, France’s biggest distributor of natural gas, is taking the government to court over its decision to cap a fourth-quarter increase in regulated fuel rates.

The case was filed earlier this month at the Conseil d’Etat, the country’s highest court, according to Jerome Chambin, a spokesman for GDF Suez.

The former monopoly’s third complaint in a year over energy prices follows a similar one by Anode, a group of rival distributors. The gas companies are mounting legal challenges against successive French government decisions to limit increases in gas prices to obtain rates that cover the cost of imported supplies.

GDF Suez, which is 35 percent owned by the state, was allowed to raise gas prices for households by 2 percent from October, less than half of the increase it had requested. The government said at the time its decision was based on the need to safeguard the interests of consumers.

France’s regulator ruled the latest increase should have been 6.1 percent for households in order for distributors to cover their costs of supply.

Anode and GDF Suez also took the former government to court a year ago after being prevented from passing on supply costs to consumers. The court ruled in their favor.

Les Echos reported today that a change in gas prices related to the cost of supply may result in an increase of less than 1 percent.

The Conseil d’Etat is scheduled to hear Anode’s latest challenge Nov. 27, according to a court official.

Link to Company News: {GSZ FP <Equity> CN <GO>}

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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