March 16, 2012 / 4:26 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Veolia's chief operating officer leaves in reshuffle

* COO Denis Gasquet, two other executives leave

* Shares up over 5 pct (Adds background)

By Elena Berton

PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) - Veolia Environnement’s chief operating officer has left, it was announced on Friday, in a further management reshuffle of the French waste, water, energy and transport group following a failed board coup.

Denis Gasquet is leaving with immediate effect, the company said in a statement. Also departing are Secretary General Olivier Orsini and Jean-Pierre Fremont, senior executive vice-president of public entities and European affairs.

The departure of Gasquet, who had been considered close to ex-boss and Veolia founder Henri Proglio, is a further step in Chief Executive Antoine Frerot’s plan to overhaul its management team and restore credibility as the debt-laden company seeks to rationalise its operations and return to growth.

At 1531 GMT Veolia’s shares were 5.72 percent higher at 12.83 euros.

“The acceleration of the strategic plan and the closing ranks of the teams around Frerot were well-received,” said one Paris-based trader.

Another trader said investors welcomed in particular the departure of Gasquet, who had been head of the Waste division during what the trader called a “disastrous” period.

Veolia’s shares are still down 38 percent over the last 12 months after a restructuring and profit warnings, the trader added.

The restructuring plan put in place by Frerot was aimed at reeling in much of an expansion plan undertaken by the company’s founder and former chief executive Henri Proglio.

As part of the restructuring plan, Veolia aims to sell its transport business, Veolia Transdev, in a bid to shed 5 billion euros ($6.73 billion) of assets in the next two years and generate cost savings of 420 million by 2015.

Veolia earlier this month said it was in talks with Cube infrastructure fund, owned by investment bank Natixis, to sell its 50 percent stake in the Veolia Transdev joint venture it owns with French state investment bank CDC.

In another appointment announced on Friday, Veolia’s Sylvain Boucher has joined the company’s executive committee of seven. Boucher was previously the committee’s secretary, a Veolia spokeswoman said, without elaborating.

The announcements come a day after Veolia said two board members - Spanish businesswoman Esther Koplowitz and Jean-François Dehecq, ex-head of French drugmaker Sanofi - would not continue in their roles after their mandates expire at the annual shareholders’ meeting on May 16.

Both were seen as supporters of Proglio and, according to Les Echos newspaper on Wednesday, were among four board members to have abstained from a vote that kept Frerot in office at a meeting ahead of the release of Veolia’s 2011 earnings in early March. (Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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