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BERLIN, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Germany will continue talks with the Netherlands about buying an equity stake in grid company TenneT after Dutch elections next month, Germany’s economy ministry said on Wednesday.
The Dutch government, which owns TenneT, surprised Berlin on Tuesday with its announcement that it regarded the negotiations as stalled over the question of who would control the company’s German subsidiary and that it could talk to other investors.
The two countries had signed an agreement last May to consider a TenneT stake sale to help to fund up to 50 billion euros ($60.12 billion) of investment over the coming decade, about 70% of which will take place in Germany.
A German economy ministry spokeswoman on Wednesday said that both countries would continue the negotiations after the Dutch elections, scheduled for March 17.
“For Germany, it’s imperative that TenneT can fully meet all obligations regarding network expansion in Germany,” she said.
Much of the planned investment is needed to support a larger amount of renewable energy on the grids of northwest Europe, including support for offshore wind farms and more interconnections between countries.
The talks between Germany and the Netherlands over TenneT, the largest grid operator in both countries, have been a contentious issue because taxpayers would be financing another country’s national grid and could be exposed to cross-border risks.
The German government is keen to secure investment in its power grids to accelerate the shift in Europe’s largest economy towards renewable energy. At the same time, Berlin wants to protect its energy infrastructure from the influence of state-controlled investors from outside the European Union.
In 2018 the German government fended off an attempt by China’s State Grid to buy a 20% stake in German power grid company 50Hertz.
($1 = 0.8317 euros)
Reporting by Michael Nienaber Editing by David Goodman