French state is not taking sides in Suez-Veolia row: Le Maire

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PARIS (Reuters) - French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday that the

state was not taking sides in the dispute for control of water and waste management Suez SEVI.PA and that protecting jobs was key.

“The state is impartial...The state in this matter is neither on the side of Veolia nor on the side of Suez,” Le Maire told CNews television.

On Aug. 30 Veolia offered to buy a 29.9% stake in Suez from French gas and power utility Engie ENGIE.PA for 2.9 billion euros ($3.4 billion) and if successful, to then launch a full takeover bid.

The offer has been rejected by Suez, with its chairman saying in an interview published on Sunday that it represented an “industrial mirage” that would lead to job cuts in France.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Jason Neely