French court rules Veolia must consult unions before Suez bid

Credit: REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE

Unions said on Friday that a French court had ruled that they must be consulted on the sale of gas utility Engie's 29.9% stake in waste and water group Suez to Veolia before it can go ahead.

Adds lawyer comment

PARIS, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Unions said on Friday that a French court had ruled that they must be consulted on the sale of gas utility Engie's ENGIE.PA 29.9% stake in waste and water group Suez SEVI.PA to Veolia VIE.PA before it can go ahead.

The Suez works council, in which the company's main unions are represented, last month filed a lawsuit aimed at suspending larger rival Veolia's bid for the group. Under French law works councils must be consulted about major changes such as a corporate takeover.

A lawyer for the Suez works council said that the ruling does not annul the sale of Engie's stake, but orders Veolia to halt all further steps until the works council has been duly informed and consulted, which could take two to three months.

"Veolia has no choice but to respect this decision," Zoran Ilic, a lawyer for the works council, told Reuters.

He added that the works council does not have the power to reverse the deal, but can have it suspended if its rights have not been respected.

Valerie Dolivet, a lawyer for Suez trade unions said the ruling halts all planned next steps, notably the full takeover of Suez and the sale of Suez' French water unit, until employees' representatives have been consulted.

(Reporting by Matthieu Protard and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alexander Smith)

((matthieu.protard@thomsonreuters.com; +33-1-49495381;))

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