May 6, 2020 / 5:36 AM / a month ago

French utility Veolia eyes more cost cuts as Q1 profits fall

PARIS, May 6 (Reuters) - French water and waste management utility Veolia unveiled on Wednesday more cost-cutting plans to strengthen its financial position, as the impact of the new coronavirus led to a drop in first-quarter profits and revenues.

Veolia, which has recently been focusing more on areas such as treating toxic waste and recycling plastics, said net profit for the three months ending March 31 fell 41.9% from a year earlier to 121 million euros ($131.1 million).

Revenues fell 1.6% to 6.68 billion euros.

Veolia said it was planning 200 million euros of new cost cuts in 2020 to deal with the uncertain business environment created by the coronavirus crisis.

“In order to mitigate as much as possible the consequences of this economic shock and allow the group to get out of it in good shape, I have already launched a very ambitious adaptation plan which will increase cost savings in 2020 by an additional 200 million euros and cut capex by 500 million euros while maintaining growth capex,” said Veolia chairman and chief executive Antoine Frerot.

“This cost cutting plan comes in addition to the 250 million euros 2020 cost savings objective. The group’s liquidity is very strong with 5.4 billion euros of cash and 4.2 billion euros of available credit lines. This financial strength and the group’s agility will allow us to seize opportunities when they arise as the crisis ends,” added Frerot in a statement.

$1 = 0.9230 euros Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten

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