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Engie CEO says there are no plans to take over Suez
January 6, 2017 / 3:45 PM / a year ago

Engie CEO says there are no plans to take over Suez

PARIS (Reuters) - Engie (ENGIE.PA) Chief Executive Isabelle Kocher said on Friday the French utility has no plans for a full takeover of its 33 percent-owned waste and water unit Suez, responding to a report that Engie was considering such a move.

Isabelle Kocher, Chief Exective Officer of French gas and power group Engie, attends the French employer's body MEDEF union summer forum on the campus of the HEC School of Management in Jouy-en-Josas, near Paris, France, August 30, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Kocher did not rule out Engie could change the level of its stake in Suez, but said this was not on the current agenda.

Suez shares (SEVI.PA) rose about 5 percent before Christmas, and have held on to those gains since, after business radio station BFM said Engie was examining a full takeover bid.

“We are happy with the current level of our stake,” Kocher told reporters.

Kocher said the municipal authorities that make up a large part of the firm’s customers are interested in getting global solutions from their suppliers and that city mayors typically want a range of services from heating networks to public lighting, security, air quality and traffic.

But she added that this does not mean there is a need to integrate Suez more tightly into Engie.

“Dealing with the Suez issue is not a priority today,” she said.

In February, Kocher started a three-year transformation of Engie, selling 15 billion euros ($15.9 billion) of assets in coal-powered generation and in oil and gas exploration to refocus the group on gas, renewable energy and energy services.

She said that following the sale of its Polish Engie Energia Polska unit to state-owned Polish utility Enea ENAE.WA late last year for an enterprise value of about 250 million euros, Engie has realized about half of its planned asset sales.

She added that the company is in no hurry to sell the rest and will bide its time so it can get a good price.

“We will take the full three years to execute our asset sales plan,” she said.

Kocher said Engie had closed or sold 9 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation capacity, from 15 GW at the start of the program. She added that Engie’s Hazelwood, Australia power station would be closed in coming weeks.

Kocher also denied any wrongdoing in a European Union antitrust probe into tax deals granted by Luxembourg to Engie.

The European Commission said in September it had concerns the tax rulings granted by Luxembourg since 2008 appeared to treat the same financial transaction as both debt and equity, leading to double non-taxation of companies in the GDF Suez group, as Engie was formerly known.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Dale Hudson

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