PARIS (Reuters) – French public service Veolia VIE.PA said on Tuesday he was open to discussions on the proposed price to acquire Engie’s stake in water and waste management group Suez SEVI.PA.
Veolia offered last month to pay 2.9 billion euros for a 29.9% stake in Suez held by Engie ENGIE.PA, with a view to subsequently taking full control of Suez by buying back more shares.
Engie rejected Veolia’s initial advance, but said he would consider a higher bid for Suez’s stake. Suez chairman Philippe Varin called Veolia’s offer “very hostile” and said Veolia’s plans for the company were unrealistic.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Estelle Brachlianoff, managing director of Veolia, who is also deputy managing director, said: “There is a legitimate debate on the price, clearly, and there will be a discussion to be had. .
But she said that, according to Veolia, price was not the main issue in determining whether the deal went through. She said that in addition to the price, Engie was examining the viability of the future entity, and job guarantees.
She said time was a factor as Veolia wanted to close the deal before Suez, under an existing plan to reorganize its business, divested more of its units.
“Time is running out if we are to avoid the dismantling of Suez,” Brachlianoff said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Suez, which is rallying its support for resisting Veolia’s offer, announced plans to hand over more than one billion euros ($ 1.17 billion) to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks shares by the middle of next year.