Another UK power firm is poised for foreign ownership after International Power agreed a merger with France's GDF Suez.
International Power, which owns UK assets including the giant coal-fired station at Rugeley in Staffordshire, will be 70% owned by GDF under the deal to create one of the world's biggest independent power generators.
The proposed tie-up comes after British Energy was bought by another French company, EDF, for £12.5bn in 2008. It leaves Britain owning just two independent energy producers in Centrica and Scottish & Southern Energy.
The new business, which will combine International Power's 45 power stations and the international assets of GDF, will continue to be listed on the London Stock Exchange with GDF as its majority shareholder.
GDF will pay a special dividend of about 90p a share, worth £1.4bn, to International Power's shareholders.
The company yesterday reported half-year profits of £524m, a drop of 5% on a year earlier after strong contributions from operations in Australia and the Middle East were offset by weaker profits in North America.
The merger comes one month after confirmation of the £1bn sale of the transmission and distribution side of Northern Ireland Electricity to the Republic's Electricity Supply Board (ESB).