Veolia Shareholders Approve Frerot as CEO After Attempts to Oust

Veolia Environnement SA voted to retain Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot as a director with an overwhelming majority after two prior attempts to unseat him.

The resolution granting him a second four-year term on the board was passed by 96 percent, Europe’s largest water and wastewater company announced today at a shareholders’ meeting.

“I have the means to lead Veolia,” said Frerot, who survived attempts to oust him this year and in February 2012. The most recent episode is “closed,” he told the meeting.

Speculation over Frerot’s leadership raised concern that his efforts to cut debt by narrowing Veolia’s global reach and concentrating on high-growth economies would be cut short. The CEO has unveiled plans to expand in mining services, nuclear dismantling, hazardous-waste cleanup, shale drilling water-treatment and services for the food-processing industry.

“2014 will be the year of revenue growth,” Chief Financial Officer Philippe Capron said today. Profitability will follow as Veolia cuts costs, invests carefully and focuses on industrial orders, Capron said.

Veolia posted an annual net loss of 135 million euros ($187 million), compared with restated net income of 404 million euros, after German provisions and reduced waste treatment.

Rival Suez Environnement today said the volume of waste it treated in the first quarter grew for the first in two years. Veolia is scheduled to publish first-quarter figures on May 7.

Frerot also downplayed acquisitions, saying: “There is no significant project for external growth,” with Veolia limiting itself to small deals to acquire technology. Debt is “sustainable” and the company is en route to meeting plans for 750 million euros of cost cuts through 2015.

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