the water battle ends between bitterness and success

The big day for Antoine Frérot, CEO of Veolia, has arrived. A year and five months after launching its offensive on Suez, the world leader in environmental services officially became the owner of its great rival on Tuesday, January 18. It is indeed on this date that Veolia receives the 86.22% of the capital of Suez brought, at this stage, to its public purchase offer (OPA). Nobody, however, will play the bourgeois of Calais. Bertrand Camus, the general manager of the former number two in the sector and figurehead of the resistance against Veolia, had planned to leave the same day the Suez tower, south of the La Défense district, in Hauts-de- Seine.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers After a long battle, Veolia and Suez sign a peace treaty

Under the terms of the peace treaty signed in May 2021, Veolia will retain Suez activities ranging from the United States to China (50,000 employees, 10 billion euros in turnover). Enough to bring the winner’s income to 37 billion and its workforce to 230,000 employees. On January 31, Veolia will resell for 7 billion euros in turnover, or 40% of Suez’s activities – including those in France in water and waste – to a consortium formed by the French infrastructure fund Meridiam ( 40%), the American Global Infrastructure Partners (40%) and the Caisse des dépôts et consignations (20%). This “new Suez” will be called Suez and will be headed by Sabrina Soussan, former boss of the Swiss group Dormakaba (safety equipment).

Investment bankers, lawyers, consultants of all kinds have had no complaints about the water battle. According to initial estimates, Veolia paid around 200 million euros to carry out its attack, with the support of Crédit Agricole, lawyers for Cleary Gottlieb and the communication agency Havas. A large part of these expenses are related to the financing of the operation, including the capital increase of 2.5 billion euros completed in October 2021.

For its part, Suez paid some 150 million euros to organize its defense, with the help of Rothschild, Bredin Prat or even Publicis. This sum does not take into account the 25 million euros in severance pay paid to the investment fund Ardian, which had set up a counter-project with the American GIP at the request of the management of Suez. Amounts to put in view of the extension of 1.4 billion euros that Veolia had to agree.

Veolia and Suez assure it in chorus: they have not called on pharmacies with questionable practices. However, suspicious events have been noted on both sides. In early August 2020, shortly after Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, the president of Engie, announced that the energy company’s stake in Suez was no longer “strategic”, intruders were intercepted at 40e floor of the Suez tower, that of the management: these individuals explained that they wanted to take advantage of the ” view “ panoramic. “Is it Veolia? », Bertrand Camus had immediately asked. Like what, the confidence was already there…

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