Suez swings to loss, sales fall less than expected

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Suez is seen on the top of a building in Rueil-Malmaison, France, August 17, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French utility Suez SEVI.PA swung into a 538 million euro (487.2 million pounds) net loss in the first half of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic cut water consumption and halted refuse collections, though sales fell by less than expected.

At 8.17 billion euros, revenue was down 4.5% like-for-like after the group had warned it could decrease up to 6% in the period. It said it expected sales to continue on a downward trend, falling between 2% to 4% in the second half of the year.

Suez, which posted a net profit of 212 million euros in the first half of 2019, was hit by lower water consumption during coronavirus lockdowns enforced by governments, it said.

Garbage collections also petered out, it said, including those which it normally does for industrial clients.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) came in at 76 million euros, down 83% on a like-for-like basis, which strips out currency swings and acquisitions.

Suez said a plan to sell between 3 billion and 4 billion euros of assets was also moving ahead.

The group was “in negotiations” for some disposals, it said, adding that it had identified which units it planned to part ways with next, without giving more details.

Reporting by Sarah White and Benjamin Mallet