(Bloomberg) -- Private equity firms Ardian SAS and Global Infrastructure Partners are prepared to offer 11.3 billion euros ($13.7 billion) for Suez SA with the backing of the French water company, which is seeking to fend off a similar proposal from its archrival Veolia Environnement SA.The letter of intent includes an offer of 18 euros a share, matching the proposal that Veolia made more than four months ago, the firms said in a statement Sunday. Veolia responded that it has no intention of selling its 29.9% stake and repeated that Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot is prepared to discuss his company’s project for Suez.“There’s no counterbid on our part,” Mathias Burghardt,” head of Ardian’s infrastructure business, said in an interview. “We’ll back a solution that both (Veolia and Suez) parties must find.”It’s another twist in a protracted months-long battle between the water and waste industry competitors, a saga that’s playing out in the boardroom, the courts and the French political arena. Suez said it’s now prepared to hold discussions with Veolia, which bought its stake in October as a prelude to a full takeover.Suez’s board unanimously welcomed the latest approach, one that Chief Executive Officer Bertrand Camus said would preserve jobs and competition in the French market. The company’s capital would be opened to other investors, Camus said on a call with reporters.Breaking the LogjamShareholders should also welcome the deal because the situation with Veolia is effectively “blocked,” Camus said. The proposal “requires talks with Veolia, and Suez is calling for such talks.”Ardian and GIP are ready to help facilitate a solution that Veolia and Suez could find, and they’re prepared to make the 18-euros-a-share offer if it helps to break the impasse, Burghardt said.Veolia earlier this month published the takeover bid it intends to submit as Frerot tries to build a global giant in the sector. Suez’s board and management have resisted the attempt, saying it can’t hold talks until there’s a formal offer.Veolia plans to offer 18 euros per Suez share with dividend rights, provided Suez’s management doesn’t detract the value with decisions such as selling key assets in Spain, Chile, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, Frerot has said.For a takeover of Suez to succeed, various antitrust issues must be resolved. Veolia has agreed to divest Suez’s French water business to infrastructure manager Meridiam, and said it could sell some international water assets to that fund as well.Poison PillIn an attempt to make Veolia’s bid more difficult, Suez created a legal mechanism to make the sale of these French water assets subject to approval of the current board. A French court has ordered Suez not to make this permanent without shareholder approval. Suez is now seeking to overturn that decision.Ardian’s potential involvement surfaced early in the Suez-Veolia battle only for the French PE firm to decide in October against filing an offer for Suez. Meanwhile, GIP has been on the acquisition trail of late.GIP beat out rivals including Blackstone Group Inc. this month to reach a $4.6 billion deal for Signature Aviation Plc, the world’s largest operator of private-jet bases.Its other deals include a $10.1 billion acquisition of natural-gas pipelines from Abu Dhabi as part of a consortium. In December, Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed to sell a minority stake at a liquefied natural gas export project in Australia to GIP for $2.5 billion.(Adds comment from Ardian in third and seventh paragraphs.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.