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French oil giant Total is buying high-tech battery maker Saft for €950m (£749m) as it seeks to expand its electricity and renewable energy business.

The offer values Saft’s shares at €36.50 apiece, a 38pc premium to the company’s share price on Friday, before the acquisition was made public.

Total, which like other oil majors has been battling with persistently weak oil prices, said last month it would set up a new branch for gas, renewable energy and electricity.

The company already has a more than 57pc stake in US solar panel and power station maker SunPower.

“The combination of Saft and Total will enable Saft to become the group’s spearhead in electricity storage,” said Patrick Pouyanne, chairman and chief executive of Total.

“The acquisition is part of Total’s ambition to accelerate its development in the fields of renewable energy and electricity.”

Saft, which employs more than 4,100 staff across 19 countries, designs and makes nickel and lithium batteries for industries including transportation and civil and military electronics.

Total has sought to expand in clean energy, announcing last month it was combining its renewables, gas and power units with its energy innovation and efficiency business. In September, the company said it would invest $500m (£346m) a year in renewables to expand in biofuels and solar

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