Ardian’s Burghardt Believes in Deal in Veolia-Suez Standoff

Veolia Environnement SA is starting to see advantages in Ardian’s offer to help solve the standoff in its takeover bid for French rival Suez SA, an Ardian executive said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche.

Ardian’s proposal to buy part of Suez with Global Infrastructure Partners and to leave the rest to Veolia is compatible with Veolia’s strategy, Mathias Burghardt, the head of the French private equity’s infrastructure business told the newspaper. It reduces the bill for Veolia and solves its antitrust issues while preserving jobs, he said.

“I’m rather confident” Ardian’s offer will succeed, Burghardt said in the interview published Sunday. “I believe there will be a compromise,” he said, adding that Suez shareholders will have a final say at the annual shareholder meeting scheduled for May or June.

Veolia said in a statement to Bloomberg that its position hasn’t changed since it rejected Ardian’s proposal a week ago. Ardian and GIP’s offer is unacceptable, and Veolia wants to talk with Suez on the basis of its own plans, Veolia said.

The utilities have been fighting in courts and in the political arena since Veolia announced its intention to take over Suez seven months ago. It bought a 29.9% stake in its rival in October as first step to a full takeover.

Suez last Sunday proposed a negotiated solution, which would involve Veolia paying a higher price and selling on part of the company to Ardian and GIP. But Veolia swiftly rejected the plan and stuck to its original 18 euros ($21) per share bid.

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