Veolia underlines ‘drastic’ step to sell Suez UK

Veolia’s Paris HQ has signalled that the sale of Suez UK is all but definite as a result of the probe by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). 

Veolia's head office in Aubervilliers, Paris

The company has also said that any funds raised will free up cash flow for new developments “especially in the energy sector”.

In a strongly worded statement from Paris on Thursday (16 June), Veolia said it has made the “drastic” move to sell Suez UK because of the CMA’s “intransigence”.

Veolia also said the move doesn’t reduce its commitment to the UK or affect its overall scope of the project to merge the two companies globally.

In the statement, Veolia said:” 16 months after the officialization of the project, the CMA remains the only competition authority that hasn’t performed a definitive assessment of the effects of the merger on its domestic market.

“In order to terminate this long period of waiting, but above all to be able to fully focus on the creation of the world champion…Veolia has informed the CMA on Monday (13 June) of its intention to sell all of Suez’s waste activities in the country”.

The CMA published Veolia’s responses on Thursday, where it said the company would sell Suez UK if the provisional ruling blocking the merger becomes final.

The latest Veolia statement seems to harden this position and concede that the sale will now have to go ahead (see letsrecycle.com story).

‘Intransigence’

Veolia also accused the CMA of “intransigence”, saying it has now been forced to take the “drastic action” to sell Suez UK as a result.

“Veolia strongly disagrees with their analysis of the concerned markets and deplores the lack of shared understanding of the issues related to our sectors of activity,” the statement said.

The company highlighted what it thought the benefits of the deal are, saying Suez contributes to 30% of its revenue globally, and the move has been approved everywhere else.

It said it “regrets” that the CMA’s decision will not allow it to “fully deploy the full potential of the ecological transformation”.

Energy

Veolia said it will use the funds to invest in the energy sector; picture is the company EfW facility in Sheffield, although future energy operations could be in sectors such as bioenergy

Looking forward, Veolia explained that the move to sell Suez UK, which it said will have revenues of more than £1 billion annually, “will free up significant cash flow to finance new developments, particularly in the energy sector”.

This will allow Veolia to return to a portfolio of activities balanced between water, energy and waste.

The company added: “At a time when energy sovereignty and the development of alternative energy sources are both strategic and ecological imperatives, Veolia intends to pursue its development in this sector in synergy with the group’s other activities.

“This divestment will also allow to accelerate the company’s debt reduction, making Veolia more agile than ever as it approaches the end of Impact 2023. It will provide additional financial flexibility while Veolia embarks on a new strategic program placing innovation at the heart of its growth model.”

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