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Veolia Said in Advanced Talks With Highstar on Waste Unit

Highstar Capital is one of three suitors in final-round talks with Veolia Environnement SA, the world’s biggest water company, to buy its U.S. waste management unit, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC and Brazilian conglomerate Estre Ambiental SA are the other bidders, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because talks are private. A deal, which may be valued at $1.5 billion to $2 billion, may be announced in the next two weeks, said one of the people.

Highstar Capital, the infrastructure-focused private equity firm once affiliated with American International Group Inc., has shown the most interest of all potential bidders, one of the people said. The New York-based firm already operates U.S. waste management businesses Advanced Disposal Services and Interstate Waste Services through Star Atlantic, in which it first invested in 2005, its website shows.

Veolia climbed as much as 3.8 percent to 9.09 euros, the most in two weeks, after an earlier Reuters report and traded at 9.03 euros at 5:46 p.m. in France. The stock has fallen 50 percent the past 12 months, valuing the utility at 4.71 billion euros ($5.76 billion).

Madison Dearborn, founded 20 years ago in Chicago, makes acquisitions in the consumer, energy, power and health-care industries. Estre Ambiental manages landfills and operates water and waste-treatment businesses throughout Brazil and South America.

Sandrine Guendoul, a spokeswoman for Veolia in Paris, declined to comment, as did Chuck Dohrenwend, a spokesman for Madison Dearborn. An official at Highstar didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. An official at an external press office representing Sao Paulo-based Estre Ambiental didn’t immediately return a call and an e-mail seeking comment.

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