EU Ends French Water Market Probe on Lack of Evidence

The European Commission closed a probe into Veolia Environnement SA, Suez Environnement SA and Saur SA after failing to find evidence the companies and a trade group plotted to fix the price of water and wastewater services in France.

“The commission has thoroughly investigated the existence of possible anticompetitive practices in the market for outsourced management of water and wastewater services in France,” the European Union’s antitrust regulator said on its website today. “This thorough investigation failed to establish the existence of an infringement of EU competition rules.”

Antitrust officials raided the three companies in 2010 over concerns that they colluded in public tenders for water distribution and treatment.

Suez Environnement, which is 34 percent-owned by utility GDF Suez (GSZ) SA, said last week that waste-treatment revenue dropped 5.3 percent as the economic crisis in Europe continued to shrink volumes. The utility, together with larger rival Veolia Environnement (VIE), has seen demand for industrial waste collection slide after manufacturers reduced factory output.

Suez Environnement was fined 8 million euros ($10.5 million) by the EU for breaking a seal regulators attached to an office door during the 2010 raid.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Brussels at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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