Veolia’s latest Suez offer: ‘No serious step forward’, says Suez

Suez Board of Directors says it will study the latest merger proposals made by Veolia, but that the proposal of ‘lacks seriousness and raises the following questions’, Suez says.

Veolia says its latest offer would mean:

  • Suez would remain unchanged in France with its scope of €5 billion in revenues and more than 25,000 employees.
  • SUEZ would maintain its position in France, ‘thanks to a solid and long-term investor’.
  • SUEZ employees in France would continue to work within the same group
  • Veolia would guarantee the maintenance of strong competition for the benefit of the clients.

Veolia said its new offer ‘demonstrates Veolia’s determination to complete its merger project while preserving a strong competition’.

It said in a statement: ‘This proposal is the result of six months of discussions with all Suez stakeholders and represents a balanced compromise that would accelerate the inevitable merger between the two groups, giving rise to a major French global champion of ecological transformation while preserving the identity and strengths of Suez in France. Veolia is ready to work on this as quickly as possible with the management of Suez.

Raises questions

Suez, however, says the proposal of Veolia ‘lacks seriousness’. The company says it has reiterated for several weeks its ‘willingness’ to find a negotiated solution which:

  • offers to its employees all the social guarantees,
  • ensures to customers that all the Group’s long-term commitments will be maintained within the framework of sustainable competition and constant innovation,
  • values SUEZ at its fair value for its shareholders.

It says the proposal raises the following questions:

  • The sustainability of the French activities, cut off from growth and innovation of international developments. ‘The proposed 20 years step backwards would not guarantee customers the competition of an international leader nor the credibility of solutions developed for a global market and meeting the challenges of the ecological transition,’ it said.
  • For the Group’s French employees, it says the proposal therefore offers ‘deceptive social guarantees in a tough economic environment’.
  • For shareholders, it says ‘no valuation of Suez at a fair price is proposed’. The offer price, unchanged since October, is ‘unacceptable’. Finally, it says the conditions of the transaction with Meridiam remain opaque.

Suez said in a statement: ‘In the absence of real willingness to negotiate and of serious proposals, the Group is pursuing its Suez 2030 industrial project.

‘Every day, this plan demonstrates its strength for the benefit of its customers, by allowing to build a more sustainable environment through concrete and innovative solutions, and for the benefit of its shareholders by enabling increased value creation.’

Waste management firm, Veolia, acquired a 29.9% stake in rival Suez last year and said it would file a voluntary takeover bid for the remaining Suez shares.

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