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Suez Chairman Varin: We need some time to prepare alternatives

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Logo of Suez
FILE PHOTO: Logo of Suez

PARIS (Reuters) - French waste and water management firm Suez <SEVI.PA>, target of a hostile takeover bid from rival Veolia <VIE.PA>, said on Wednesday it needed some time to prepare alternatives.

Suez Chairman Philippe Varin made the comments at a hearing at the National Assembly

"I do not see why Engie...would accept a four week ultimatum", Varin said .

"We simply need some more time to prepare alternative offfers"

Veolia last month offered to pay 2.9 billion euros for a 29.9% stake in Suez owned by French conglomerate Engie <ENGIE.PA>, with a view to subsequently taking full control of Suez by buying up more shares. The deadline of Veolia's bid is Sept. 30.

Engie rejected Veolia's initial advance but has said it will consider a higher offer for the Suez stake.

Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Veolia Chief Operating Officer Estelle Brachlianoff, who is also deputy CEO, said: "There is a legitimate debate on the price, clearly, and there will be a discussion to be had."

Varin also said that the structure of Veolia's offer raised legal issues as it was adressed to Engie <ENGIE.PA> as a prelude to a full takeover bid.

Separately, representatives of employees who are also shareholders of Suez and of Engie on Wednesday asked Engie's board to freeze decisions regarding Veolia's offer and start consultations with all parties involved.

"This is a badly prepared financial operation, detrimental to both shareholders and employees. Other solutions are possible. Let's take time to work on it," they said.

(Reporting by Bertrand Boucey, writing by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)