Paris (AFP)

"Aberrant for Suez and disastrous for France": the boss of Suez closed the door to any friendly rapprochement with Veolia Sunday, denouncing a hostile operation and "an attempt to major destabilization of a flagship company of our country".

In an interview with Le Figaro, Bertrand Camus denounces "an opportunist financial operation, with a baroque approach" which "undervalues ​​the assets of Suez", whose stock market fell with the health crisis even though the group is "in getting back to growth ".

By buying 29.9% of Suez from Engie for 2.9 billion euros, Veolia "would immediately get its hands on its real competitor even before launching a possible takeover bid", which would paralyze Suez "for 12 to 18 months", then that we must constantly respond to calls for tenders, ”argues Mr. Camus.

If the CEO of Veolia Antoine Frérot says he wants to build a "world champion of ecological transformation" (water, waste treatment, energy management) weighing more than 40 billion euros, the boss of the prey judges the operation proposed "aberrant for Suez and fatal for France".

Mr. Camus sees it as an "attempt to major destabilization of a flagship company in our country".

Announced a week ago, the takeover offer of Veolia had already been vigorously rejected by Mr. Camus in a letter to employees in which he denounced, Wednesday, "major risks and strong uncertainties, in particular on our teams, our jobs, the future of our Water activities in France ".

Worried, all Suez unions have called on employees, "whatever their country" to stop work two hours Tuesday morning to mark their "determination to fight" against the Veolia project.

Sunday, the boss of Suez rejected any dialogue with the boss of Veolia, saying: "We have too many differences on the future of the two groups".

"Suez does not need to get married: we are already the world leader in water distribution, with 145 million inhabitants served" and "for several years, Suez has had a different project from Veolia, based on choices strategies that give priority to technological innovations and digital, "he pleaded.

- "Social Casse" -

Pulling red balls on the offer of the world number one in environmental services, Mr. Camus believes that his competitor "does not propose an industrial project": "he proposes to dismantle 40% of our activity in France".

And "the 500 million savings he plans will have an impact on thousands of jobs in France and among all of our customers around the world," warns the boss of Suez, adding: "the mega mergers are synonymous with social breakage.

Suez has 90,000 employees worldwide, including 30,000 in France.

"We have two world champions in France, and there is a risk of ending up with a single player, weakened. It is France which would lose there", pleads Mr. Camus.

“What matters is innovation, agility not size!”.

Earlier Sunday, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire had estimated that "any offer can always be improved", during the program Grand Jury d'Europe1 / Les Echos / CNews, while the state held 23.64 % of Engie's shares as of June 30, 2020.

Two days earlier, the boss of Engie, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, had estimated by evoking the offer put on the table by Veolia that "the account is not there".

Mr. Clamadieu said he was ready to study an alternative plan that Suez management could present to him, while calling on the two parties to "dialogue".

If its offer materializes, Veolia plans to immediately sell the water branch of Suez to an investment fund, Meridiam, to avoid being in a monopoly situation in this sector.

In Le Parisien dimanche, Thierry Déau, the president of Meridiam, affirms that the price of water will not increase in the event of a takeover "because competition will prevent it".

Asked whether he guarantees that no job will be cut at Suez Eau France, he said: "not only do I guarantee it, but I think that employment will be developed".

Indifferent to these assurances, Mr. Camus says he is determined to "bring about an alternative solution" in the face of the "industrial mirage" that he believes represents Veolia's offer.

© 2020 AFP