Paris (AFP)

Veolia warned on Sunday that it would initiate legal proceedings against the directors of Suez who would authorize the sale of the group's strategic assets, reacting to information suggesting negotiations in this direction.

"Veolia announces that it is studying all legal avenues to block these sales and, if they should take place, engage the individual responsibility of those who have authorized them," said in a statement to AFP the group, engaged in a takeover bid on his rival.

"Suez does not comment on rumors, whether orchestrated or not," said the latter, as information circulated in the financial press on the fate of its waste assets in Australia and Great Britain .

"The only Suez dismantling project of which we are aware is that of Veolia", adds one at Suez.

The Cleanaway Waste Management group confirmed in a press release "its interest in a potential acquisition" of the Australian assets of Suez: "there is no certainty that discussions with Suez will result in a transaction," he adds, however.

Discussions with the I Squared Capital fund also focus on British assets, according to Mergermarket.

For Antoine Frérot, the CEO of Veolia, such sales, representing 80% of the waste activity of Suez outside France, would be "a considerable impoverishment of the Suez company. the work of an investment fund, not of an industrialist. It is to scuttle their own group ".

"A shareholder like Veolia would consider that a board of directors which, in order to remain in place, empties the company in this way, is unacceptable. In this case, we will not hesitate to engage individual responsibility. those of the directors who would authorize this liquidation, "he told AFP, invoking the defense of the corporate interest and of the group's stakeholders.

In a more conciliatory tone, Veolia also indicated that it would announce this week a proposal likely to come out "by the top" of the conflict with Suez.

"We are thinking about a solution which would make it possible to satisfy a certain number of stakeholders", just said Mr. Frérot.

The two brothers, enemies of water and waste, have been engaged in a war by all means since Veolia bought 29.9% of Suez from Engie in October.

Veolia has since launched a takeover bid on the rest of the shares to create a French giant in environmental services.

Suez, who refuses to let himself be swallowed, pleads for the maintenance of two groups and for his own model of development.

Since 2019, the company has launched a plan of asset disposals and acquisitions to focus on certain activities with high added value: its CEO Bertrand Camus recently announced a second round of disposals, without specifying which ones, to the chagrin of Veolia .

Antoine Frérot believes that these sales are primarily aimed at "being able to pay exceptional dividends" to Suez shareholders.

While the two parties no longer seem to be able to speak to each other, it may be the shareholders of Suez who will ultimately have to decide at the general meeting expected by the end of June.

© 2021 AFP