By Mauro Orru
Private-equity investors Ardian and Global Infrastructure Partners have approached Suez SA with an 11.31 billion-euro ($13.66 billion) takeover offer as an alternative to a bid from Veolia Environnement SA.
French waste and water management company Suez said late Sunday that its board of directors unanimously backed a proposal from Ardian and Global Infrastructure Partners to buy Suez shares at EUR18 a share.
"The board of directors gives its unanimous support to the solution envisaged with the participation of responsible, long-term, top quality investors. It has mandated the group's CEO to continue to work to deliver it, including opening discussions with Veolia to reach a solution in line with Suez's corporate interest," Suez's Board of Directors Chairman Philippe Varin said.
Veolia previously acquired a 29.9% stake in Suez from energy company Engie SA, although the process has become mired in legal disputes, with Suez opposed to what it considers a hostile takeover by Veolia.
Private-equity firm Ardian had previously expressed interest in buying the stake from Engie.
Veolia said it stake in Suez isn't for sale and it considers hostile any proposal involving a sale or transfer that would thwart its efforts to take over Suez.
"I remain open to discussion with the board of directors of Suez within the framework of the project that I sent them last week," Veolia Chief Executive Antoine Frerot said.
Write to Mauro Orru at email@example.com; @MauroOrru94