Engaged in a standoff against Veolia's “very hostile” takeover project, Suez President Philippe Varin warns in the Journal du Dimanche against a social risk if his rival achieves his goals.
Just before the start of the school year, Veolia, the world leader in water and waste treatment, announced that it wanted to buy out its historic competitor Suez, starting with the acquisition of most of the shares (29.9%) held by Engie.
"For our 90,000 employees, including 30,000 in France, it is the threat of job losses," said Philippe Varin in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche.
"We cannot announce 500 million synergies and say that there will be no impact. I have never seen it in my life. If we look at Alcatel-Lucent, LafargeHolcim, GE-Alstom, every time , promises were made. Each time, there were social plans after, "he continues.
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Takeover of Suez?
"The French will not pay more for their water", swears the CEO of Veolia
Between the two groups, the battle for influence relates particularly to employment, on which the State, Engie's reference shareholder, has warned that it would be vigilant without however opposing the operation.
"I intend to convince the Prime Minister that in substance, this project has flaws. It involves considerable risks of execution," said Mr. Varin, who speaks of a "very hostile" offer from Veolia.
"I fully understand that Engie's board of directors wants to translate its stake in Suez into cash. But to resolve this problem, Engie's decision on Veolia's proposal would determine Suez's future and would consist in particular of dismantling the Suez group in France ", he laments.
Earlier this week, the president of Engie had announced that he would carefully study a "new project" from Suez if he managed to quickly present him "an alternative offer".
"The management is building an alternative solution that the board (of directors of Suez, editor's note) encourages. The work is in progress and, for their serenity, I cannot say more", underlines Philippe Varin.