(CIAM corrects number of board members it wants replaced from six to eight in paragraph 8)
PARIS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Suez minority investor CIAM plans to push for the replacement of more than half the company’s board at its annual shareholder meeting amid a takeover tussle with rival Veolia, a spokesman for the activist fund said.
CIAM, which owns less than 1% of Suez, is not in a position to topple Suez’s management alone, and would have to win the support of a substantial number of other investors for its AGM resolution to be approved.
But the shareholder meeting in the spring, which last year took place in May, could be a tipping point in an acrimonious spat that has now lasted nearly six months, as shareholders start revealing their positions on the proposed merger.
French waste and water management firm Suez has been fending off approaches from its larger peer Veolia, now its top shareholder with nearly 30%, and which launched an offer for the shares it does not own in February.
Suez’s board has decried Veolia’s advances, saying a combination could lead to job losses and was not advantageous.
Meanwhile Veolia, which argues it wants to build a world champion to take on rivals emerging from China, dropped a pledge to keep its offer friendly when it went ahead with its bid.
In a letter to Suez’s board on Tuesday, seen by Reuters, CIAM said directors should examine Veolia’s takeover offer in the interest of investors.
It wants to replace eight members of Suez’s 14-strong board, targeting those who voted in favour of creating a foundation to house the firm’s water activities, a hurdle to takeover approaches, the CIAM spokesman said. (Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Sarah White; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jan Harvey)