A French commercial court yesterday ordered energy and water giant Veolia Environnement SA to suspend its bid for rival Suez SA so as to allow a review of its earlier commitments to launch a friendly offer.
Veolia on Sunday announced it would pay 7.9 billion euros (US$9.5 billion) for the 70.1 percent of Suez it does not already own.
However, the court in Nanterre ordered Veolia not to submit its latest bid to the market regulator nor to launch an offer for the Suez shares without prior approval from its board.
The court ruling is the latest twist in a long-running saga between the two emblematic French companies.
Up to now, Veolia has sought to convince the Suez board of the merits of the deal, but Sunday’s announcement suggested it had run out of patience.
In a statement on Sunday, Veolia said it had decided on “a public takeover bid in cash” at a price of 18 euros per share.
Veolia, which in October bought 29.9 percent of Suez’s capital, “notes that its repeated attempts at friendliness, reiterated in its offer proposal of January 7, 2021, have all encountered opposition.”
It accused Suez of obstructing Veolia’s bid.
Suez responded by saying that the takeover bid would be “irregular and illegal,” with a spokeswoman saying it showed Veolia never intended to proceed in a friendly manner.
Last month, Suez received an acquisition offer from investment firms Ardian and GIP, but Veolia refused to back off.
Veolia’s takeover has the potential to create a global giant supplying power generation, waste management and water services to municipalities worldwide.
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