Desinvestment of Suez Environment or not?

The Bureau of the EWC of Suez, the works council of the Suez holding and the French trade unions were called for an information meeting to Paris, Sunday 2 September 2007. Management of Suez was represented by CEO Mestrallet and the CEO of Suez environment Mr. Chaussade. After months of wrangling with the French state and after two weeks of rumours Suez and GdF have agreed a new way to allow the merger to continue. The French state will still have 34% in the new group which will be based on Suez Energy and GdF. This new group wlll deal with energy services. It in turn will have around 35% in Suez Environment which will be brought to the stock exchnage. The way in which this will happen is through giving all existing Suez shareholders (and that includes in the future also the State), Suez environment shares.The new group Suez energy and GdF will conclude a shareholders pact with a number of other companies and banks to create a group of reference shareholders which will (together with the workers-shareholders) hold aroun 50% of the shares. Management still sees Suez Environment as part of the Group. The CEO of Suez-GdF will be President of the Conseil de Administration Suez Environment. And Suez Environment will be part of the consolidated accounts. The members of the bureau of the EWC of Suez will meet Tuesday to reflect further on the situation and the impact on the work force. Clearly workers in Suez Environment will face more insecurity and uncertainty in the months (and years?) to come.

Background
Suez and GdF announced a merger in Feburary 2006. The French state passed a law allowing the privatisation of GdF. The trade unions in GdF have been steadfast in their opposition to the merger as it will lead to the disappearance of a public company with risks for workers and citizens. The EWC of GdF won a crucial court case which delayed the merger. It became an issue in the elections for the French Presidency. The European Commission has approved the merger under strict conditions including disinvestment of Distrigas. Also the Belgian state demanded guarantees for the energy production in Belgium (Suez owns Electrabel, Distrigas and Fluxys and hence the complete energy infrastructure in Belgium). Suez and Gaz de France have asked the Commission for a prolongation of the approval of the merger.

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