Suez CEO Calls for Friendly Solution to Veolia Takeover Talks

Suez SA Chief Executive Officer Bertrand Camus repeated his call to find a friendly solution to hostile-takeover talks with Veolia Environnement SA and said private equity firms Ardian SAS and Global Infrastructure Partners could be involved in a deal.

The months-long stalemate between Veolia and its takeover target, Suez, took a new turn earlier in January when Camus and Veolia CEO Antoine Frerot agreed to hold talks. That’s after Ardian and GIP said they were ready to participate, assuming that the two French water and waste companies reach a deal.

“We’re still at preliminary stages” of the dialogue between Suez and Veolia, Camus said Monday on a call with journalists. He reiterated his aim to find a solution that would provide “fair treatment and create value for all shareholders,” as well as for employees and clients.

While Suez and Veolia agreed last week to continue discussions, their positions seem to remain far apart. Suez wants an agreement on the basis that it will remain independent from Veolia, citing concerns about job loses and reduced competition, notably in the French water market. But Veolia CEO Frerot said he’s not prepared to hold talks for the rival utility on that premise.

Earnings Boost

Earlier, the Suez CEO presented preliminary earnings for the second half of 2020 which were better than the company forecast at the end of July.

Suez, which has announced more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of asset sales and made some acquisitions last year, will announce new divestments and investment in the coming weeks, Camus said.

Suez shares were trading 1% higher at 17.21 euros at 12:46 p.m. in Paris. Veolia has said it plans to make an offer for the 70% of the Suez shares it doesn’t already own at 18 euros per share, while Ardian and GIP could participate in various solutions that might entail an offer at the same price, the companies said.

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