GDF Suez Denies Report of Plan to Lower Suez Environnement Stake

GDF Suez SA, operator of Europe’s biggest natural gas network, denied a report that it plans to lower its stake in water utility Suez Environnement.

Journal du Dimanche said the energy company could lower its 36 percent holding in Suez Environnement, possibly through a share swap involving Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona SA, known as Agbar, and La Caixa.

GDF Suez spokeswoman Patricia Marie said the company had no plan to sell even part of its stake in Suez Environnement. A spokeswoman for Suez Environnement also denied the report.

GDF Suez Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet said April 28 that the company had “no project” to change its holding in the water utility. He was asked about the stake during a call with analysts about first-quarter earnings. Suez Environnement was spun off from Suez SA in 2008 when that company merged with French monopoly gas supplier Gaz de France SA to form GDF Suez.

“We have no project so far,” Mestrallet said on the call about a change in its holding. France’s financial market regulator Autorite des Marches Financiers “noted” a decision by the two companies to have separate computer systems, he said.

GDF Suez will pursue technical, commercial and industrial synergies with Suez Environnement, he said. These include projects in waste-to-energy biogas and water desalination, he said.

A five-year shareholder pact put in place for the creation of Suez Environnement ran out last year.

GDF Suez has held discussions with Itochu Corp. about buying part of its Suez Environnement stake, JDD reported today. Another scenario is for Spanish group La Caixa to acquire a stake in Suez Environnement from GDF Suez through a swap.

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