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Gaz de France reports 11 percent drop in first-half net earnings

Gaz de France reports 11 percent drop in first-half net earnings

State-run natural gas company Gaz de France SA said Wednesday net profit dropped 11 percent in the first half of 2007 as demand slumped because of unusually warm weather.
GdF, which is hoping to finalize a merger with Belgian-French utility Suez, said earnings in the first half dropped to euro1.51 billion (US$2.06 billion) from euro1.70 billion a year earlier.
In a statement, GdF cited a "very difficult environment" in the period amid "exceptionally warm weather that affected nearly all of our businesses," and slumping gas prices.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, fell to euro3.11 billion (US$4.25 billion) from euro3.27 billion over the same period a year earlier.
The results topped expectations of a 14 percent drop in net profit and a 13-percent drop in EBITDA, based on the average of five analysts' estimates polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
GdF confirmed its financial objective for the full year of 2007 of an EBITDA in line with the 2006 level.
In February last year, GdF and Suez announced a merger, seen as a bid to thwart a hostile takeover bid for Suez by Italian utility Enel SpA.
GdF shares closed Tuesday down 0.2 percent to euro33.90 (US$46.32) in an overall lower market.