France still trying to end Veolia, Suez dispute, says source

FILE PHOTO: Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Recovery, wearing a protective face mask, attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - The French state is still trying to end disagreements between utilities Veolia and Suez days ahead of a deadline, a source close to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Saturday.

Veolia last month offered to pay energy group Engie 2.9 billion euros ($3.37 billion) for a 29.9% stake in Suez, with a view to subsequently taking full control of its rival by buying up more shares, a move Suez views as hostile.

Veolia’s offer remains valid until Sept. 30.

“There have been multiple conversations ... The goal remains to find a middle ground and to end the conflict, the source told Reuters.

The French state holds a 23.6% stake in Engie and has tried to ease tensions. Engie, which owns almost 32% of Suez, rejected Veolia’s initial advance but has said it would consider a higher offer.

Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Writing by Matthias Blamont; Editing by Andrew Heavens