EU regulators rebuff Suez bid to censure Veolia's 29.9% stake purchase

FILE PHOTO: A flag with the logo of Suez is seen on a barge in Paris, France, September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators have rejected a request made by Suez to declare illegal Veolia’s purchase of a 29.9% stake in the French water and waste management company, a European Commission filing showed on Wednesday.

Suez, which is fighting a hostile takeover bid from Veolia, sent a letter in October asking European Union competition enforcers to declare Veolia’s purchase of the stake from power group Engie illegal and to issue a fine, the filing said.

The EU executive dismissed Suez’s arguments.

Veolia is in informal talks with EU enforcers before formally requesting approval for its takeover bid in a process likely to take several months.

Suez says the merger of two of the largest players in the sector would significantly reduce competition and hold back innovation, according to people familiar with the matter.

Veolia is proceeding with its bid despite legal hurdles and a government warning about the increasingly hostile battle.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Edmund Blair