Veolia Denies Reports That It Has Selected Buyers for Its U.S. Solid Waste Unit

UPDATE: Late today, Veolia Environmental Services North America Corp. (VESNA) issued a statement contradicting the Dow Jones newswire report published earlier today and detailed below, claiming that it was based on a "misstatement." The statement includes the following quote from VESNA President and CEO Richard Burke:

“The information shared by our Chairman Antoine Frerot during today's annual shareholder meeting was only confirming the communications we released previously regarding Veolia's solid waste asset divestment program in the United States. Specifically, as part of the process being run by our investment bankers, Veolia has received several non-binding offers for its Solid Waste business in the United States. The process is ongoing with plans to select a buyer by Summer 2012.”

For transparency, what follows is our story as originally reported.

Paris-based Veolia Environnement said it has a buyer for its U.S. solid waste operation, according to the Dow Jones newswire.

Veolia Chief Executive Antoine Frerot said at the company’s annual meeting it has selected buyers for Veolia ES Solid Waste Inc. and the United Kingdom water business, but did not indentify the buyers, according to the report.

Dow reported that three groups submitted indicative offers for the U.S. and U.K. units. The first group is led by AXA Private Equity; the second by GS Infrastructure Partners, a unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; and the third by London-based Icon Infrastructure.

Veolia's U.S. office confirmed that the company has received offers for both the U.S. and U.K. operations.

At the meeting Frerot said the company plans to sell the assets this summer. He said the company also is in negotiations with an investor to sell its transportation unit, Veolia Transdev, but didn’t identify the investor.

Veolia announced in December it was putting the U.S. solid waste operations up for sale, as part of a massive restructuring plan to raise $6.7 billion for reducing debt.

In December, plans called for Veolia Environmental Services North America (VESNA), based in Chicago, to retain its two other business units, Veolia ES Technical Solutions and Veolia ES Industrial Services.  VESNA also was to keep its Canadian solid waste business.  

VESNA ranked third on the Waste Age 100 with 2010 revenue of $1.9 billion and about 10,000 employees. The U.S. solid waste operations include 29 landfills, 72 collection operations, 17 recycling facilities and 43 transfer stations, most east of the Mississippi River.

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