BRUSSELS, May 2 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Thursday it was reopening an investigation into a tax break granted to French power utility EDF, after the highest EU court overturned a Commission finding that the measure was illegal state aid.
The Commission said in a statement it was extending the inquiry to take into account whether a private investor would have made an investment like that the French authorities had done.
The European Court of Justice ruled last June that the Commission had not assessed if the French state, which wholly owned EDF at the time of the tax break, acted in the same way as any prudent investor would have done.
The case goes back to 1997, when France waived a tax claim against EDF, valued at the time at 888.89 million euros ($1.17 billion).
The Commission ruled in 2003 that the waiver strengthened EDF's competitive position with peers and constituted improper state aid, and ordered EDF to pay 1.22 billion euros ($1.52 billion) after interest to the French state.
EDF successfully appealed to the General Court, the European Union's second highest court, in 2009 and the French state returned the money to EDF.
($1 = 0.7580 euros)
(Rex Merrifield and Foo Yun Chee, Brussels newsroom) Keywords: EU EDF/
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