Unions have reacted strongly against a hostile merger between two rival French waste and water companies after claiming it could put 10,000 jobs at risk. /AFP
The French finance minister has denounced both sides in a hostile merger between two rival French water and waste companies.
Bruno Le Maire criticized both Suez and Veolia for their actions regarding the start of what is expected to be a complete and controversial takeover.
On 5 October, French utility Engie agreed to sell a 30 percent stake in Suez to Veolia for $4 billion in a deal that could create a global giant in waste and environmental services.
The French state, a major shareholder in Engie, voted against selling the stake to Veolia, although a majority of the utility’s board gave its approval.
The planned merger of the historic rivals Suez and Veolia has not proved popular. Unions demonstrated in front of Engie’s offices and argued that 10,000 jobs will be at risk.
"We are not asked for our opinion, we are bought, we are dispersed: we become variables," Franck Reynold von Hessen, a union representative, told CGTN Europe.
"We should be protected from capitalist or stock market movements, but it is clear the state has validated this deal."
Suez CEO Bertrand Camus, left, and Veolia's head Antoine Frerot are two of the key players behind the merger. /AFP
Suez was determined to avoid what it describes as a "creeping takeover" that would be "destructive" for France.
Veolia says it wants to create a "world super champion" in water and waste services and the company's CEO claims the deal will have far-reaching, positive consequences.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the employees, customers and shareholders of both groups and it is a project which serves France and the planet," said Antoine Frerot.
But this deal has been built on a foundation of hostilities.
CLICK: SCIENTISTS LAUNCH 'EMERGENCY' PROJECT TO RESTORE UNDERSEA MEADOWS
Both sides have been criticized by the French government, with the Le Maire denouncing "intransigence" by Suez for not being willing to compromise.
The finance minister also lamented "haste" on the part of Veolia for trying to rush through this deal.
According to Global Water Intelligence, Suez and Veolia are the world’s two biggest private water providers – but 12 of the 20 leading private water providers are Chinese.
Veolia’s planned takeover of Suez might position the new company to challenge the strength of rivals.
But the acrimony around this merger and the threat of legal action means this is not a done deal just yet.
Copyright © 2020 CGTN. Beijing ICP prepared NO.16065310-3