French Prosecutor Probes Veolia-Suez Influence Peddling
(Bloomberg) -- France’s financial prosecutor’s office said it opened a preliminary probe to discover whether people have illegally used their status or position to influence Veolia Environnement SA’s acquisition of Suez SA.
The investigation over potential “influence peddling” was started June 18, the prosecutor’s office said in an emailed response to questions. It declined to comment on who are the targets of the probe.
After nearly eight months of fierce resistance from Suez’s management, the French water and treatment company made an agreement with Veolia in April. The deal, which is due to be completed at the end of January pending antitrust approval, will see Veolia buy a majority of Suez. A group led by Meridiam SAS and Global Infrastructure Partners will buy the rest.
Last April, five unions filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office against Alexis Kohler, the chief-of-staff of President Emmanuel Macron, as well as Veolia Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot, Engie SA chairman Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, and Meridiam chairman Thierry Deau. The unions said that the takeover bid was only the result of decisions “taken and favored at the highest levels of the state” for “the sole benefit of a few.”
Agence France-Presse first reported the preliminary probe Friday.
Spokespersons for Veolia, Meridiam and the French presidency declined to comment on the probe. A representative for Engie couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
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