The proposed megamerger between French energy giants Gaz de France and Suez has cleared yet another obstacle now that a council of French labor unions has issued a long-awaited opinion on the deal. Nine law firms — from Britain, France and the U.S. — have their hands in the $157.5 billion transaction that, if completed, will create one of Europe’s largest natural gas producers and the world’s third-largest utility.

Merger plans originally were announced in February 2006 and approved by the European Commission in November of that year. Months of merger negotiations followed, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy eventually stepping in to broker a deal in September 2007. That agreement essentially privatizes Gaz de France by cutting the government’s stake in the company from 80 percent to roughly 35.5 percent.