Veolia is moving up a gear by putting nearly 8 billion euros on the table to acquire Suez. After the purchase of 29.9% of its French competitor, in October, the champion of water and waste renounces the friendly nature of its takeover attempt. In a brief press release published on Sunday February 7, Veolia wrote that “his repeated attempts at friendliness, reiterated in his offer proposal of January 7, 2021, have all met with opposition” from Suez.
Veolia’s board of directors has therefore decided to launch a public tender offer at a price of 18 euros per share, on the 70.1% of the capital that it does not hold, i.e. an operation in the amount of 7 , 9 billion euros in cash. This initiative was interrupted Monday morning by the Nanterre Commercial Court, which was seized Sunday evening by Suez. He ordered Veolia to suspend the launch of this takeover bid pending a substantive debate on its previous friendly commitments.
The target reacted immediately on Sunday: “Veolia is legally unable to file a takeover bid”, underlined a spokesperson for Suez, denouncing a “termination of the friendship commitment” taken by Veolia. “We will not let Veolia take its course in its destruction enterprise”, declared for its part the inter-union of Suez (CGT, FO, CFDT, CFTC, CFE-CGC) denouncing a “Hostile takeover bid against Suez and its employees”, synonym of “declaration of war without return”.
In an increasingly sustained and competitive global market, Veolia wants to create a “French super champion” of the sector, a “project in the interest of the nation”, according to its CEO Antoine Frérot. For his part, the Managing Director of Suez, Bertrand Camus, this takeover would be “an alchemy in reverse, to transform gold into lead”.