After months of research to find out how to avoid being bought out by Veolia, Suez announced on Sunday that it had obtained an offer from French funds Ardian and American GIP, to reach a “friendly solution” with its competitor, who immediately sent an end not to receive.
The board of directors “received a letter of intent from Ardian and GIP (Global Infrastructure Partners), aimed at enabling a friendly and rapid solution to the situation created by the intention to offer from Veolia”, indicated the group in a press release.
This offer aims to guarantee the sustainability of the two French giants of water and waste by offering a way out for Veolia.
The letter of intent from Ardian and GIP received by Suez “paves the way for a comprehensive solution with various possible execution modalities, having equivalent effect, including an offer to purchase Suez shares by investors, at the price of 18 euros per share, coupon attached, “Suez detailed in a press release.
Terms “to be negotiated”
Clearly, the two investors and Suez would notably offer Veolia to buy back from it, at the same price, the 29.9% of the capital of Suez that it acquired from Engie in early October. “The board of directors asked me to work on alternative solutions and to look for other investors. It’s done, with this consortium which is ready to support Suez”, defended Bertrand Camus, during a telephone interview with journalists.
The terms “will remain to be negotiated with Veolia, if Veolia accepts the outstretched hand of Suez,” said Camus, specifying that he warned Antoine Frérot, CEO of Veolia, shortly before publicly announcing this offer. But Veolia immediately refused any idea of withdrawing from Suez: “Veolia reminds this evening that the 29.9% it owns in the capital of Suez is not and will not be for sale,” retorted the group, defending its project to build a “world champion of ecological transformation”.
The American GIP enters the case
“Any project which would directly or indirectly involve the sale by Veolia of its stake in Suez, or other transfers distorting the industrial project that the group is carrying, is considered hostile by Veolia”, he added.
If the name of Ardian, a leading investment fund in France, has been circulating for several months as a possible spoiler for the purposes of Veolia, the American GIP is a newcomer in the file. This fund, which specializes in infrastructure investment, manages tens of billions of dollars in assets.
Ardian and GIP “offer a stable shareholder base to support the development of Suez in France and abroad, with constant concern for respecting the public interest,” the two companies defended in a joint press release.
“Hand held out”
According to Bertrand Camus, this plan B “has the advantage of ticking a lot of boxes”, beyond maintaining Suez’s autonomy. In particular, it will provide “the assurance of a majority French capital, with a significant increase in employee shareholding”, according to the press release.
This offer “makes it possible to keep two French leaders in environmental services at a time when the markets are extremely promising (…), to ensure the preservation of jobs, the maintenance of essential competition, in particular in France, “Mr. Camus insisted.
In order to respond to anti-trust laws, Veolia plans to sell Suez Eau France, the heart of its history, to the Meridiam fund. A project that worries Suez employees and which is strongly denounced by the management of the group, which has been trying desperately for weeks to find a way out.
Source: A la Une – Le Progrès | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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