February 27, 2014 / 7:21 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Veolia posts 2013 loss on German impairment charge

(Adds detail on Transdev, CEO)

PARIS, Feb 27 (Reuters) - French water and waste group Veolia Environnement said it booked a 135 million euro ($184.5 million) net loss in 2013, reversing a 404 million profit in 2012, partly due to goodwill impairment charges on its German unit.

The company said it took a 150 million euro goodwill impairment in environmental services in Germany, and 141 million in restructuring charges, including on its French water activities.

There were also 73 million euros in costs related to the early redemption of bonds, and its transport activities had a loss of 51 million, primarily related to its mainland France-Corsica ferry unit, SNCM.

“These charges will let us start 2014 with a clear horizon,” Chief Executive Antoine Frerot said on a conference call.

The company said it would pay an unchanged dividend of 0.70 euros a share on 2013 earnings and the same amount on 2014 results.

Net financial debt fell to 8.2 billion euros last year, Veolia said.

Frerot, whose mandate was renewed at a board meeting on Wednesday after his position was challenged by minority shareholder the Dassault family, said the board had wanted to end the public discussion about his future by bringing forward the decision on his confirmation.

“The board yesterday wanted to end the debates and the rumours to give the company the serenity to complete its restructuring,” he said.

He declined to say whether the vote had been unanimous.

Frerot said business conditions at the start of 2014 were similar to late last year, with prices and volumes mainly stable. Its main competitor Suez Environnement had made similar comments about the industry.

Frerot said he could not say when Veolia would sell part of its stake in its Transdev transport unit to state holding company CDC. Veolia and CDC each hold 50 percent of the unit.

He said a deal would have to wait for a solution for Transdev’s loss-making SNCM ferry unit, which CDC does not want to take over.

“CDC still wants to take control of Transdev. It will do that when the SNCM problem has been solved,” the CEO said.

Frerot has repeatedly said Veolia will put no new funds into SNCM. He said that if SNCM wants to avoid liquidation, a solution needs to be found for the state subsidies that the European Union competition authorities want SNCM to pay back.

“A viable solution for SNCM means protecting it from the Brussels fines,” he said. ($1 = 0.7317 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by James Regan)

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