Suez buys 24% stake in Barcelona water utility Agbar

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Suez buys 24% stake in Barcelona water utility Agbar

Suez Environnement has purchased the 24.14% of Agbar that was held by Criteria CaixaHolding and Criteria CaixaHolding, in turn, will have up to a 7% share in Suez Environnement, making it its second largest shareholder

Criteria CaixaHolding, wholly owned by the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation which manages all "la Caixa" shareholdings, will become the second largest shareholder of Suez Environnement after signing a binding agreement with the French group for the sale of its 24.14% holding in Agbar in exchange for 22 million newly-issued shares of Suez Environnement, representing 4.1% of its share capital, and €299 million in cash.

As part of the agreement, Criteria declared its intent to allocate part of the cash received to purchase Suez Environnement shares on the stock market, for the purpose of obtaining, depending on market conditions, up to 7% of the share capital of Suez Environnement, a  company that currently controls 75.35% of Agbar's share capital.

Suez Environnement will allow Criteria to be represented on Suez Environnement's Board of Directors and in its Strategy Committee. In turn, Criteria agrees to maintain its investment in Suez Environnement over the next four years.

The gross impact on Criteria's results from the sale of the Agbar shares will not be significant. Within the framework of the historical cooperation with Suez Environnement in the Spanish market, the agreement between Criteria and Agbar includes a clause in which Criteria undertakes to acquire from Agbar 15% of Aigües de Barcelona, a company that manages the integral water cycle in the metropolitan area of Barcelona, and to purchase from Suez Environnement 14.5% of its holding in Aguas de Valencia.

When the investment in Aigües de Barcelona is made, its shareholder structure will be formed by Agbar (70%), AMB (15%) and Criteria (15%). Criteria's investment in Aigües de Barcelona reinforces its commitment and connection to developing key infrastructure and services for 36 municipalities of the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

Gérard Mestrallet, Chaiman of the Board of Suez Environnement, said:

"I am very proud to welcome "la Caixa" Group as a long term shareholder and to keep developing with them our operational partnership in Spain. With this strategic agreement, Suez Environnement will accelerate the development of its water activities, with a simplified and coherent organization and a reinforced shareholding structure and I am very pleased to enrich this long lasting and strong partnership with "la Caixa" Group."

After more than 145 years of experience, Agbar is an international benchmark with a presence in Spain, Chile, the UK, Turkey, Algeria, the US, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and other countries in Latin America. In 2013, Agbar posted income of €2,036 million.

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