"The only thing preventing all Suez shareholders from benefiting from a public takeover bid at €18 per share is the opposition from the board of directors of Suez in its current form," said Veolia CEO Antoine Frérot Tuesday morning in a press release. The French environmental services giant reaffirmed in it its intent to fully take over its competitor Suez following its acquisition of 29.9 per cent of Suez's shares from the French energy utility Engie the beginning of October. Suez has rejected the plans outright and considers Veolia's project to be a hostile takeover.
In the statement, Veolia confirms its intent to make a public takeover bid once two conditions are met: Suez's board of directors approves the project and the body deactivates the inalienability mechanism put in place for Suez's water activities in France. Suez has transferred one share each of Suez France and Suez Group to a Dutch foundation, whose board must approve any move to divest Suez's water activities. The foundation effectively prevents Veolia from selling Suez's French water activities to the financial investor Meridiam. The divestiture is an important and necessary step in Veolia's merger plans, as it would enable the concern to obtain approval from competition authorities despite its own strong presence on the French municipal water market.
In the event that Suez's board of directors continues to reject its plans, Veolia believes that Suez's shareholders would elect a new board in a general meeting. "We are convinced that we will be able to convince the board of directors of Suez, either in its current form or, failing that, after a general meeting, of the relevance of our proposal," said CEO Antoine Frérot.