Agreements to buy electricity generating plants and distribution, transmission and supply assets reached an unprecedented US$85 billion worldwide in 2000, according to a survey in FT Energy’s Global Private Power. Much of the spending went on generating stations, with 99 000 MW changing hands. The survey predicted that activity in 2001 is likely to show a similar pattern, with the major companies consolidating and expanding their existing positions, and most regions seeing between five and eight players becoming increasingly dominant. But there is likely to be an increase in pace in regions such as Asia and Eastern Europe where the acquisition market has been limited in the past.

In particular the analysis showed that over 35 000 MW of capacity under construction or development changed hands, almost all of it based on natural gas firing; that most of the activity occurred in Europe, Latin America and North America where the markets are already open for competition or becoming so; that most of the activity is in the sale of privately owned facilities rather than in privatisation, and that a relatively small number of cash-rich power and energy companies are doing most of the trading, mainly by consolidation or repositioning in markets where they are already active.