PARIS French waste and water treatment group Suez Environnement (SEVI.PA) is considering making a bid for General Electric's (GE.N) industrial water treatment business, a Suez spokeswoman said on Thursday, confirming media reports.
French newspaper Le Figaro said on Wednesday that Suez was among a handful of other companies, mostly private equity firms which were left in the running after a second round of bidding for GE Water & Process Technologies.
GE Water earns $250-$300 million a year before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
"GE Water is indeed a business that we are looking at because its activities are in line with our strategy of boosting our industrial market," the spokeswoman said.
GE put the unit on the block when it announced it was merging its power business with oil services group Baker Hughes on Oct. 31.
BFM Business reported that Suez was set to make a firm offer for GE Water in the coming days and that GE would chose a buyer mid-March, with the price of the unit estimated at somewhere betweed 2 and 3 billion euros ($2-3 billion).
BFM said that Suez's cheif executive Jean-Louis Chaussade had the unanimous support of his board for the acquisition and was considering financing it with a mix of debt and new capital.
Bigger French rival Veolia's (VIE.PA) chief executive Antoine Frerot said on Thursday he had also looked at buying the GE Water business but decided not to make a bid.
Veolia and Suez are both looking to expand in the industrial market as their traditional European municipal water markets are stagnating.
($1 = 0.9484 euros)
(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Greg Mahlich)