The coronavirus crisis and other extraordinary burdens have left clear marks on the results of the French environmental group Suez. On Friday morning, the company announced a net loss after minority interests of €228m for 2020. A year earlier, it had posted a net profit of €352m. Suez's annual sales fell by 4.5 per cent in annual comparison, slipping from €18.0bn to €17.2bn last year.
Suez also recorded a decline in revenues for its European waste management activities, which reported sales of €6bn, or 4.5 per cent less than in the prior-year. In the Asia-Pacific region, the division's revenues came in only 1 per cent lower than in the previous year at around €1bn. Both regions achieved organic revenue growth in the second half of the year, said Suez. The concern's waste segment booked earnings before interest and taxes (Ebit) of €275m for 2020, 33 percent lower than the previous year's figure of €411m.
Board rejects Veolia's offer
Along with the release of its annual earnings report, Suez announced that its board of directors had reviewed Veolia's industrial project and €18 per share offer, and at its meeting on 24 February had "unanimously decided that the conditions were not met to support such a project". The offer presented by its competitor did not sufficiently reflect the intrinsic value of Suez, and also exposed its customers and shareholders to significant execution risk.
Suez also reiterated its warning that the dismantling of its business would only come at a social cost. "Veolia’s scale objective does not bring with it any clear benefits for the provision of essential services. It does not enhance technological innovation, quality of service or agility which are Suez' strengths," said the concern. The board of directors would now lay out its objections in a "reasoned opinion" to be submitted to the French stock exchange regulator (AMF).