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* Suez offered to preserve French activities within one entity
* Meridiam has confirmed interest in taking over that entity
* Veolia not planning to change 18 euros per share offer for Suez
PARIS, March 11 (Reuters) - Suez can keep all its activities in France ahead of a possible sale to investment firm Meridiam, French waste and water group Veolia said on Thursday in a proposal to revive its bid for its domestic rival.
Veolia Chairman and Chief Executive Antoine Frerot, however, told a conference call that his company would not change its 18 euros per share takeover bid for Suez -- a pre-condition Suez had set for resuming tie-up talks with Veolia -- reiterating it was a “fair” price.
The new proposal, under which Veolia would end up with only the international assets of Suez, also hinges on Suez dropping plans to sell two assets in Australia and Britain that Veolia had considered strategic in its offer, he said.
The standoff between the two historic competitors and heirs to 19th century water companies that have become global firms has descended into a series of tit-for-tat manoeuvres as Suez tries to fend off Veolia.
The proposal would make it possible to maintain Suez water and waste activities in France within the same single entity and pave the way for a “prompt” solution to the dispute between the two groups, Frerot said.
Meridiam had confirmed its interest in taking over the new company which would continue to operate under the Suez brand.
If Suez’s board clears this new proposal, the scope of Suez’s waste and water business in France would remain unchanged, generating 5 billion euros in revenue and employing more than 25,000 people.
“This new coherent and balanced approach is therefore likely to respond to the main concerns of the stakeholders of preserving jobs and competition in France, and of giving Suez the necessary capacities to develop in the long term and in a reinforced manner,” Veolia also said in a statement.
Anticipating possible antitrust hurdles in France, Veolia had initially said it would sell only Suez’s French water activities to Meridiam if the acquisition goes through to preserve competition and employment.
Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Edmund Blair and Emelia Sithole-Matarise