Paris (AFP)

"The account is not there" on the price proposed for Suez, ruled Friday the president of Engie Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, after having received an offer from Veolia to 2.9 billion euros in order to buy back the almost all of its stake in its water and waste competitor.

"The project in certain aspects is attractive" but Mr. Clamadieu, who spoke on the BFM Business channel, also called for "an inclusive offer in which the Suez teams feel involved".

On the price, "the account is not there because we have to do a valuation of Suez. Our vision is that the value of Suez is more important than the basis of this discussion," he said. , also considering that the benefits of synergies expected from this possible union would benefit Veolia above all.

On the merits of the project, the president of Engie also felt that it should be reviewed, either by Veolia, or via an alternative project provided by the management of Suez.

"An offer, whatever it is, must be an inclusive offer in which the Suez teams feel part of it, because otherwise it won't work (...) there is a huge way to go on this subject and it must be done quickly, "he said, while Veolia's proposal runs until the end of September.

“Can we make an alternative offer a reality? And if we work on Veolia's offer, how can we improve it?” He detailed.

For him, "the project, in certain aspects, is attractive - to create a great world champion. (But) on the French water market, no: it is causing radical change. We would only have one player left. strategic".

Veolia "proposes to sell (Suez Eau France) to an investment fund, which generally results in a slightly different model, and the impacts must be measured: a strategic player is generally more oriented towards innovation, he has means of research, an investment fund is someone attentive to its investment returns, "he remarked.

He "called for dialogue to be established between the two companies to (...) see how this project can evolve".

He also assured to have "discovered the Sunday morning offer" a few hours before its public announcement by Veolia.

"It is true that it was presented with a level of enthusiasm, perhaps of aggressiveness, which may have surprised everyone. We could have imagined a slightly different approach, in which we discuss 'first and then we communicate,' he said.

Veolia wants to buy out its historic competitor Suez, starting with the acquisition of most of the shares (29.9%) held by Engie.

If the buyout from Engie materializes, Veolia plans to launch a takeover bid on the rest of the shares.

To comply with anti-trust legislation, the world leader in water and waste treatment has also planned to sell Suez's water activity in France to the Meridiam fund.

Suez management expressed its vigorous opposition to the whole project, while on Thursday Prime Minister Jean Castex said the operation "makes sense" from an industrial point of view.

© 2020 AFP