(Bloomberg) — Suez SA backed a potential takeover bid led by private equity firm Ardian SAS, seeking to give investors an alternative as it fights an acquisition from French rival Veolia Environnement SA.



a street filled with traffic at night: An illuminated logo sits on top of the Veolia Environnement SA headquarters at night in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Engie SA got five more days to consider Veolia Environnement SA’s 3.4 billion-euro bid ($4 billion) for most of its stake in Suez SA, prolonging a corporate fight in the hope of making it less hostile.


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An illuminated logo sits on top of the Veolia Environnement SA headquarters at night in Paris, France, on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Engie SA got five more days to consider Veolia Environnement SA’s 3.4 billion-euro bid ($4 billion) for most of its stake in Suez SA, prolonging a corporate fight in the hope of making it less hostile.

Ardian’s project, which has has yet be detailed, is “in the interest of Suez — its shareholders, its employees, its clients and all its stakeholders,” the water and waste-treatment company said in a statement on Sunday after the board reviewed the plan. The Ardian proposal is “built around growth,” and would allow for an employees’ shareholding to double, it added.

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Suez said earlier Sunday it still considers Veolia’s approach to be hostile, adding further tension to a multi-stranded saga that’s drawn in the French government, and damping hopes that recent discussions could pave the way for a friendly tie-up between the two French giants.

Veolia’s offer to buy a 29.9% stake in Suez from French energy utility Engie SA for 3.4 billion ($4 billion) is seen as a prelude to a takeover of the whole company. The bid is set to expire Monday, putting pressure on Engie and Suez, which has also expressed concern about the risk of “creeping control” from Veolia.

The government, which holds 24% of Engie, has said a deal must not be hurried. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters Sunday that an agreement between Suez and Veolia is still possible.

“The government calls on both parties to resume talks

By Gwénaëlle Barzic and Sarah White

PARIS (Reuters) – French waste and water company Veolia

hiked its bid for a stake in rival Suez

on Wednesday, and offered a negotiating window for any subsequent full takeover proposal after its initial approach was rebuffed.

Veolia said it had raised its offer for a 29.9% stake in Suez held by power group Engie

to 3.4 billion euros ($4 billion) from 2.9 billion euros.

The company has been trying to persuade Engie to sell the stake as prelude to launching a full takeover bid for Suez, arguing the two would form a global waste and water champion better equipped to take on rivals, including from China.

But Suez has vehemently rejected the approach, describing it as hostile, and set about creating a foundation for its French water business, which could be a hurdle for any Veolia takeover.

That has led to an increasingly acrimonious tit-for-tat which the French government, a shareholder in Engie, has been trying to defuse.

Veolia on Wednesday piled the pressure on Engie to come to a swift decision by saying its new 18 euros per share offer – up from 15.5 euros previously – would expire by the end of the day, sticking to a timetable it had set itself at the end of August.

“It (the offer) is still due to run out at midnight tonight,” Veolia Chief Executive Antoine Frerot told reporters.

But Veolia also amended its bid by saying it would only launch a subsequent tender offer for the whole of Suez with the blessing of the company’s board, and offered a six month period during which to negotiate, should it acquire the 29.9% stake.

Suez shares were up 7.2% to 15.99 euros at 0829 GMT. A full bid for Suez at 18 euros per share