Veolia CEO wants to talk with Suez as government favours friendly deal

FILE PHOTO: A flag with the logo of Suez is seen on a barge in Paris, France, September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) – The chief executive of Veolia said on Monday he would get in touch with the boss of waste and water management rival Suez to define how to start a dialogue between the two companies.

Suez has for months been resisting a takeover bid from Veolia, its longstanding competitor, which is also now its biggest shareholder with a 29.9% stake.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio he remained in favour of a friendly deal between the two utility giants.

“There are strategic businesses. We have two world leaders, Veolia and Suez. I have always called for a friendly merger,” Le Maire said.

Suez said on Sunday it had received a letter of intent from private equity groups Ardian and GIP (Global Infrastructure Partners), including an offer by these investors for Suez shares at a price of 18 euros ($22) per share.

It added it was now willing to open a dialogue with Veolia with the aim of resolving the matter in the interest of all concerned parties.

But Veolia CEO Antoine Frerot, while open to dialogue with Suez, told a conference call he believed that Ardian and GIP’s proposal to invest in Suez was still not an alternative to Veolia’s own plan to takeover Suez.

Veolia bought its stake in Suez in October as a prelude to a full takeover offer at 18 euros per share, valuing the company at 11.3 billion euros.

Suez shares ended up 3.2% at 17.5 euros on the Paris stock market while Veolia was down 1.8% at 22.7 euros.

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