Waste management company Suez continues to firmly reject the hostile takeover bid by rival Veolia and has rejected the latter's offer of 18 euros per share for 70,1 percent of the company. The competitors have been locked in a battle since the takeover attempt began at last spring sparring in public and dragging each other through the courts. In the latest statement, the French group pointed out that Veolia's offer did not reflect the true value of the company and that the proposed merger would put its employees at risk. It said growth prospects and planned dividend increases implied a higher value for Suez. In an interview with the financial times, Julian Waldron, CFO of Suez said that its shareholders “look at the 2020 results. They look at the cash flow. They look at the dividends. They look at what’s happening . . . to environmental stocks and they think €18 is too low.” However, he said, Suez intends to continue working on a solution that involves an appropriate valuation for shareholders and corresponding social guarantees for employees.
The French Ministry of Finance is said to inofficially mediate talks between the two french waste and water giants looking for a resolution to the utilities’ bitter takeover battle, Bloomberg reports. The talks apparently started mid-february, after French private equity firm Ardian SAS signaled it wouldn’t play the role of a white knight by offering Suez an alternative to Veolia’s proposal.
After months of negotiations and court battles with Suez management over an amicable takeover, Veolia had recently addressed its offer directly to shareholders. Veolia had also said in early February that it had not been able to make any progress at the most recent meeting with Suez CEO Bertrand Camus and Veolia CEO Antoine Frerot on Feb. 5. Veolia had launched the battle to take over Suez in the summer. The original offer of 15.50 euros was increased at the end of September. It is the second attempt for Veolia to take over Suez. In 2012, Veolia's takeover of Suez had failed, among other things, due to antitrust concerns.