Veolia May Sell US Waste Business, Part of $ 6.7 Billion Divestiture to Pare Debt
Date: December 6, 2011
Source: Veolia Environnement
Veolia Environnement is considering the sale of its US waste business as part of an ambitious plan to raise 5 billion Euros ($ 6.7 billion) from asset sales to reduce debt. Its US waste business had revenues 614 million Euros ($ 822 million) in 2010. The French water and waste giant, the world’s largest environmental utility in terms of revenue, said it will also exit the transport sector by selling its 50 percent stake in Veolia Transdev (5.8 billion Euros in 2010), and plans to sell its regulated water business in the U.K (317 million Euros in 2010). Ultimately, the company seeks to lower debt to less than 12 billion Euros by the end of 2013 from 15 billion at the end of September. As part of the divestiture, Veolia intends to withdraw from 37 of the 77 countries in which it operates.
Veolia entered the US waste business in June 1999 when its predecessor company Vivendi S.A. bought Superior Services Inc. (Milwaukee, WI), then the fourth largest US waste company, for about $ 1 billion. Vivendi later split its entertainment business away from its environmental services business which it named Veolia.
December 6, 2011
Veolia Environnement is hosting an Investor Day today, during which the Company will present details of its transformation plan and financial outlook. This transformation plan is composed of 3 dimensions:
Restructuring of the Company’s Divisions and portfolio of activities
In view of this plan, the Company will accelerate the restructuring of its activities, resulting in the divestment of €5 billion in assets during the next two years, in particular:
concentration on three Divisions, (Water, Environmental Services and Energy Services), with a recomposition of the Veolia Transdev shareholding in conjunction with the Caisse des Dépôts;
Significant reduction in net financial debt(1)
Net financial debt is targeted to be reduced to less than €12 billion by the end of 2013 as the proceeds from an increased divestment program will primarily be utilized to reduce debt, and the Company will maintain strict investment control.
Organizational transformation and an increase in cost reduction targets via the Company’s Convergence Plan:
The Company has commenced a significant organizational transformation, incorporating plans to standardize processes, reinforce management and operational control and streamline the Company’s organizational structure;
Initiate a program of increased targeted cost reductions, which, based on the new perimeter of the Company, are expected to contribute €120 million (net of implementation costs) to operating income in 2013, €220 million in 2014 and €420 million in 2015.
This transformation will provide the means to significantly improve the Company’s financial flexibility. This transformation will also allow the Company to continue to capture the most attractive profitable organic growth opportunities, particularly in countries experiencing strong growth in which the Company’s footprint will be reinforced.
In addition, negotiations with EDF have been engaged in view of reinforcement of the company’s partnership with EDF in Energy services.
(1) Net financial debt includes: gross financial debt (non-current borrowings, current borrowings, bank overdrafts and other cash position items), net of cash and cash equivalents and excluding fair value adjustments to derivatives hedging debt.
(2) Net financial debt / (Cash flow from operations + principal repayments on operating financial assets)
(3) ± 5%
As announced on November 10, 2011, for the full year 2011, the Company confirms that adjusted operating income at constant exchange rates excluding Veolia Transdev is expected to decline compared to 2010 published adjusted operating income excluding Veolia Transdev. The amount of this reduction may be similar to that reported for the nine months ending September 2011.
For the period 2012-2013, Veolia Environnement has an objective to divest €5 billion in assets and reduce net financial debt below €12 billion by the end of 2013. In addition, for 2013, on the basis of the new Veolia perimeter, Veolia Environnement targets €220 million in gross cost reductions and €120 million in net cost reductions (after implementation costs). Finally, the Company will propose a dividend of €0.70 to be paid in 2012 and 2013 in association with each of the fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
After 2013, and assuming a mid-cycle economic environment, the Company targets annual organic revenue growth of more than 3%, annual adjusted operating cash flow growth of more than 5%, attainment of a net financial debt leverage ratio of 3.0x, and to return to a dividend payout ratio in line with the Company’s historic average.
Antoine Frérot, Veolia Environnement Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
“The strategic plan that we are announcing today is going to drive a profound transformation of our Company in order to adapt to the current economic and financial environment and to quickly position Veolia Environnement to capture the most attractive growth opportunities. It is an ambitious, but realistic plan. My management team and I are committed to this effort with conviction and confidence.”
The Investor Day will be webcast and available on our web site www.finance.veolia.com and will include a question and answer session with the attending audience. The slide presentation will also be available on Veolia Environnement’s main web site.