Veolia to Cut 700 French Jobs as Clients Seek Lower Price

Veolia Environnement SA, Europe’s largest water and waste utility, plans to lose 700 jobs as part of a proposal made in March to cut about 10 percent of the workforce at its water division in France.

The 700 planned losses, already negotiated with unions, will be on a voluntary basis, Sandrine Guendoul, a company spokeswoman, said today by telephone. The Paris-based utility will provide more details at a works-council meeting this month.

Veolia, vying with Suez Environnement for French waste and water contracts, is almost two years into a turnaround plan to reduce its global reach, curb debt and raise profit. The utility has been hurt by an industrial slowdown in Europe that cut waste handling volumes, while French municipalities have demanded lower prices for water services.

Veolia’s March plan called for 1,500 job cuts, which it later increased to 1,600, Guendoul said. Departures including retirements reached 500 this year and will number 400 in 2014, to which the 700 positions will be added.

The company intends to lower costs by 170 million euros ($231 million) this year and save 750 million euros by 2015. By the end of September, the utility had reported net savings of 109 million euros.

Veolia’s plan to cut 700 jobs in France was first reported yesterday by Agence France-Presse.

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