PARIS, April 23 The head of French water and
waste management group Veolia said on Wednesday its
second-biggest shareholder, Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault
(GIMD), could sell its Veolia stake if the stock price rises.
The Dassault family holding company, which owns 6 percent of
Veolia shares, resigned from Veolia's board last month following
an unsuccessful attempt to oust chief executive Antoine Frerot.
Frerot told financial news website La bourse et la vie that
the Dassault group had not indicated it wanted to sell Veolia
shares as it withdrew from the board, but said he could see this
happen if the stock price rises further.
"If in coming years we pursue our transformation of Veolia,
I expect the stock price will rise, and I understand that the
Dassault group could wait for that moment to disengage," he
Privately held GIMD was not available for comment.
Frerot's re-election as CEO will be put to a shareholders'
vote at the company's annual general meeting on Thursday.
Veolia's board has already voted to extend Frerot's mandate,
but board members representing its top three shareholders -
France's state fund CDC (Veolia's largest shareholder with an
8.85 percent Dassault), Dassault and insurer Groupama - had
abstained from that vote.
This followed weeks of talk of a boardroom coup in which
some of Veolia's minority shareholders tried to unseat Frerot.
Sources familiar with the world's biggest environmental
services group have said some shareholders are unhappy with the
pace of restructuring at Veolia, whose stock has fallen some 40
percent since Dassault bought its stake in 2008.
At 14.33 euros, Veolia shares are up more than 50 percent
over the past 12 months but trade at less than a quarter of
their 2007 pre-crisis highs around 63 euros.
The CDC said last month it could reduce its Veolia stake.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)