It was to be expected.
After the cookie-cutter statements of recent days, thrown into a climate of extreme tension, Veolia, through the voice of its president Antoine Frérot, unveiled this Wednesday morning a new offer to buy from Engie 29.9% (out of a total of 32%) of the shares it holds in the capital of its competitor Suez.
While it initially offered 15.50 euros per share, for a total amount of 2.9 billion euros, the offer now reaches 18 euros per share, dividends included, or 3.4 billion euros.
“This offer is valid until
(Editor's note: Wednesday September 30)
, warns the boss.
After, I remove my marbles.
It is therefore the offer of the last chance, in this soap opera which for several weeks has been opposing the world numbers one and two in water and waste treatment.
Takeover of Suez by Veolia: "The price of water will not increase"
It therefore seems that the pressure from the executive has (partially) borne fruit.
"I have heard the concerns of the public authorities, and in particular Bruno Le Maire, reiterated on several occasions", admits Antoine Frérot.
The Minister of the Economy had been pleading for several days for a "friendly agreement" to be found, and for the rat race through the media to finally cease.
He had even organized the day before (Tuesday), a meeting between the stakeholders: Philippe Varin and Bertrand Camus, respectively Chairman and CEO of Suez, on one side;
and Antoine Frérot on the other.
But the discussions had come to an end, "in the face of Veolia's refusal to postpone the deadline of September 30," as Suez requested.
A period of 6 months to find a friendly agreement ...
"I am ready to give pledges in return for similar efforts on the part of Suez, nevertheless specifies Antoine Frérot, this Wednesday morning, in parallel to his proposal to increase the price of his offer.
I will not launch a takeover bid
on the remaining 70.1% of the capital of Suez within six months after the agreement, and without having first obtained a favorable reception from their board of administration.
"Without agreement after this date, the boss does not exclude, however, any hypothesis, including that of a hostile takeover bid, that is to say addressed directly to the shareholders.
In the balance, he also puts another requirement: "The dissolution of the foundation".
Suez had surprised even its own employees last week by creating ex nihilo a foundation under Dutch law, with a single share of its Water France activity, and intended to make impossible for four years any sale without the agreement of the shareholders.
Enough to trigger the anger of Antoine Frérot, who had qualified the maneuver as a “poison pill”, a “smoke screen”, intended “to hide the absence of any counter-proposal”.
The ball is therefore now in the court of the directions of Suez and Engie.
“The day is going to be long,” sighed a member of Veolia's management when the stock markets opened at 9 am.
An hour later, the Suez share climbed 6.60% to 15.91 euros, the markets visibly welcoming the increase in Veolia's offer to buy back from Engie its 29.9% stake in the group.
Engie rose 1.20% to 11.42 euros while Veolia gleaned 0.63% to 18.44 euros.