Takeover of Suez by Veolia: the Court of Appeal confirms the suspension of the transaction pending the consultation of employees

Takeover of Suez by Veolia: the Court of Appeal confirms the suspension of the transaction pending the consultation of employees

On October 9, the court suspended the operation to buy back the 29.9% block by Veolia.

The logos of Suez and Veolia, September 14, 2020 (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

The merger will not take place immediately. The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed in all respects, Thursday, November 19, the summary order which had suspended the acquisition transaction by Veolia of the shares (29.9%) held by Engie in Suez, according to the judgment consulted by AFP.

This decision of the Court of Appeal suspends the operation but does not at this stage call into question the acquisition of this block of shares or the intention to file a takeover bid for Veolia.

Consultation deadlines

The court suspended on October 9, at first instance, the operation to buy back the 29.9% block by Veolia as long as the social and economic committees (CSE) of Suez and Suez Eau France, at the origin of the procedure. , had not been “Informed and consulted” on decisions already taken.

The consultation deadlines are “Set at three months from the communication by the employer of the information provided for by the Labor Code for consultation”, specifies the judgment. The court dismissed Veolia and Engie from the request for the lifting of the provisional measures.

“This is the fair return of the place that a CSE should have. Veolia must respect the Labor Code even if the current project is carried by a competing company ”, commented to AFP Valérie Dolivet, lawyer of the economic and social committees of Suez.

The state calls for dialogue

“We are very happy to be confirmed in our rights. We will be able to inform our colleagues in the perimeters that are likely to be impacted by the project and give a reasoned and informed opinion ”, welcomed Franck Reinhold, secretary of the European Suez group committee.

Veolia said “Take note” of the decision of the Paris Court of Appeal. According to the group, the three-month consultation period will have expired on February 5, 2021. This date is nevertheless “An unfounded interpretation” of the deadline set by the court, estimated Valerie Dolivet. “The starting point for the consultation period has not been fixed and the date of February 5 mentioned by Veolia is incorrect”, says Suez.

The CEO of Veolia, Antoine Frérot, reiterated his firm intention to carry out his takeover project on its competitor Suez. The management and the unions of Suez reject this project, crying out for social destruction, the loss of skills and the end of competition. The state, which opposed Engie’s cession, called on the two entities to dialogue.