July 7, 2018 / 6:01 PM / in 5 months

France's CDC to decide on buying out Veolia in JV at end summer

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (Reuters) - French public sector lender Caisse des Depots will decide at the end of the summer whether to buy out utility group Veolia in their Transdev transport joint venture, the CDC’s head said on Saturday.

The French waste and water group has long sought to exit Transdev and has an option to sell its 30 percent stake at the year end under a 2016 agreement with the CDC.

“We’ve got two options we are undoubtedly going to make a decision on towards the end of summer,” CDC head Lombard told Reuters in an interview.

“Either we buy Veolia’s stake or (we reach) a deal with either a financial or industrial partner to buy the 30 percent,” he added, speaking on the sidelines of an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence, southern France.

Apart from Transdev, Lombard said that he did not see a pressing need to make other adjustments to the CDC’s considerable portfolio of French corporate stakes after a review of its holdings since he joined last November.

He said he saw no pressure for French ski operator La Compagnie des Alpes (CDAF.PA), in which the CDC owns a 39.5 percent stake, to form a partnership with another company to pursue its development.

In December, the company, which also owns leisure parks, said it was confident of making progress in selling a stake to potential investors including China’s Fosun as it seeks to expand abroad into high-growth markets.

“La Compagnie des Alpes is doing well. If management has plans, we’ll have a look, but they are under no obligation to move if everything is going well,” he said.

Lombard said he was also watching from a distance the government’s plans to privatize Paris airport operator ADP.

Though his predecessor had said last year that the CDC could be interested in buying a stake in ADP, Lombard said that there was not an obvious logic in a public body like the CDC participating in a privatization.

CDC currently has a 41 percent stake in insurer CNP Assurances, which the French press suggested in January could be combined with the state-controlled postal service’s bank.

Lombard said that work was still under way and that the government had not taken a decision yet. “There is no urgency... It’s still possible that nothing happens.”

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Stephen Powell

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