PARIS (Reuters) – Engie <ENGIE.PA> said on Thursday it would seek a higher offer from Veolia <VIE.PA> for almost all of it 32% stake in French waste and water management group Suez <SEVI.PA>, adding it had not yet received any alternative proposal from Suez.
Suez sees rival Veolia’s bid plan as hostile and is working on finding a consortium of financial investors to make a rival bid for the stake French energy group Engie wishes to sell.
Engie said Veolia’s August 30 offer of 2.9 billion euros ($3.43 billion) for a 29.9% share in Suez, could not be accepted under its proposed terms.
“The board has decided to grant a mandate to Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, chairman of the board, and to Claire Waysand, interim chief executive officer, to seek improved terms from Veolia, as well as further assurances with regards to the quality of the industrial project (…)”, Engie said.
The outcome will be a decisive moment for Suez, as Veolia has expressed interest in taking full control of the French utility firm after becoming its leading investor.
Veolia has already anticipated possible antitrust hurdles and as a remedy would sell Suez’s French water activities to Meridiam Infrastructure if the acquisition goes through to preserve competition and employment.
Engie said that while no alternative proposal has yet been submitted by Suez, it would study any such offers sent to Engie “in the next few days”.
A source recently told Reuters that Spain’s Criteria, the parent company of lender Caixabank <CABK.MC> and Suez’ second biggest shareholder, had no plans to take part in any bidding consortium.
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(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)