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The Financial Statements for the first half of 2012 are an important stage in the history of the Group in terms of the important events and results achieved and their influence on the future. In July, thanks to the signing of the Acegas Aps aggregation project agreement, Hera has launched the largest operation ever in terms of its size. This transaction will be a springboard into new markets and give Hera a dominant position in Italy in all activities it is involved in. The aggregation transaction will place Hera in the top 30 in terms of market capitalisation in Italy and confirm its key role in the consolidation of one of the most important industries for the countryís economy.

In addition, for the tenth consecutive year, this half-year report includes economic results which are improving. Cash generation is positive (before dividends and extraordinary transactions) and confirms the Groupís ability to organically deal with the challenges of the difficult macroeconomic situation.††

The improved natural-gas supply contract for the 2011-2012 thermal year enabled Hera to capitalise on excess supply in the commodities market. This has made a significant contribution to the improved results in the half-year. These results highlight the positive contribution made by the strategies pursued in terms of maintaining a diversified and flexible position with regard to sources of procurement, which is something which differentiates the Group from other businesses in the industry.

On the electricity market, which could count on a sound commercial structure, effective cross-selling methods and an efficient customer service structure, the constant growth of the last five years was confirmed in the half-year and the level of sales and customers were consolidated, respectively reaching 4.7 TWh.

Waste disposal activities reflect the trend of the economic situation with a significant worsening of all the main macroeconomic indicators, from the national GDP (which recorded a change of -1.4% compared with the positive trends recorded in the first half of 2011 and 2010) to Industrial Production levels (-7% compared with the positive trends recorded in the first half of 2011 and 2010). In addition, the end of the Cip6 incentives for the Bologna WTE plant, which expired in November 2011, and the difficult weather conditions in the early part of the fiscal year, which slowed down treatment activities in landfills, completes the picture for these business areas. The commitment to market development, business proposals, improving the management of facilities and running costs has made it possible to mitigate the half-year results (with a large part of the reduction in the figures being caused by the end of the Cip6 incentives) and to slow down the negative trend recorded in the first quarter of the year. In addition, the completion of the organisational restructuring with the construction of two bio-fermentation plants, which are expected to start operating at the end of the fiscal year, and the prospect of expanding activities in new areas, partly as a result of the aggregation of Acegas APS, are extending the Groupís opportunities for benefiting from their national leadership position offering interesting prospects for future development.

Business from energy distribution, urban waste collection and integrated water service concessions also played a part in the improved first-half results, owing mainly to price adjustments in accordance with returns guaranteed by national laws, the new tariff systems and operating efficiencies resulting from the ongoing process improvement procedures.