French finance minister says there has been progress in talks over Suez

FILE PHOTO: Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance, and Recovery, wearing a protective face mask, speaks during a news conference to present French government 2021 budget following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 28, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday there had been progress in talks over French utility Suez SEVI.PA, of which rival Veolia wants to buy close to a third of the shares.

Suez earlier on Sunday rejected assurances from Veolia VIE.PA that it will not make a hostile bid for the whole company after closing in on a deal to buy a 29.9% stake from power group Engie ENGIE.PA.

Le Maire told reporters in a call that a deal was still possible on Suez and he expressed hopes that both sides would work towards a friendly agreement in the coming hours.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain and Giles Elgood