Veolia Chief Cites Dassault, Proglio for Ouster Attempts

The chief executive of French water company Veolia Environnement SA publicly identified the utility’s second-biggest shareholder and his predecessor today for two attempts to engineer his ouster in as many years.

Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault SAS was behind pressure last month for him to be replaced and former CEO Henri Proglio led a 2012 attempt, Antoine Frerot said today in a BFM TV interview. Frerot previously declined to publicly name names.

Veolia’s board last week proposed renewing Frerot’s 4-year term at the next shareholders’ meeting. Frerot has lowered debt and sold billions of euros of assets to revive Europe’s largest waste and water utility by market value. Veolia will “return to growth” this year after a loss in 2013, Frerot has said.

Dassault’s spokesman could not be immediately reached by phone today for comment. Proglio, whose name has surfaced in the saga before, has declined to comment in the past.

Dassault resents the fact that the stock has fallen since the shareholder started accumulating a stake in 2008, Frerot said in the interview. Over six years, the Dassault family has earned “about 200 million euros in Veolia dividends but the value of its investment hasn’t risen fast enough,” he said.

Veolia closed 2.2 percent lower to 13.405 euros in Paris. The shares have dropped 79 percent since the start of 2008 though they are up from a low of 7.377 euros in November 2012.

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