Suez Shares Rise Above Veolia Offer on Hope for Higher Bid

Suez SA shares rose above the 18-euro buyout price offered by Veolia Environnement SA, suggesting some investors expect an improved bid.

For the first time since Veolia unveiled its acquisition plan last August, Suez has topped the price proposed by the French water utility. Tuesday’s advance followed comments from Suez Chairman Philippe Varin on Monday that Veolia must make an offer “well above” 18 euros before negotiations can begin.

Suez climbed as much as 1.8% to 18.12 euros in Paris, before paring gains to trade at 17.94 euros as of 3:27 p.m. local time.

In an interview with Le Figaro published Monday evening, Varin demanded that Veolia maintain Suez’s business as a “specialist leader capable of supporting R&D with global reach.” He also urged Veolia to extend its social commitments for four years and include the group’s employees outside France. He insisted that Suez be allowed to present its response to the plans to Veolia’s board.

The 18-euro proposal is “a very good price,” Veolia Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot said last week, declining to comment on whether the utility might increase its bid.

Veolia also won’t comment on its offer price when it holds a press briefing later this week, a person with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday. It will however make announcements regarding Suez employees, the person said, without elaborating.

For months, the two utilities have sparred in the media, the boardroom and the courts as Suez seeks to fend off a hostile takeover. Veolia bought almost 30% of its rival from Engie SA in October and intends to file a bid for the rest once antitrust reviews are completed.

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