PARIS, May 5 (Reuters) - French utility Veolia,
which last month agreed a 13 billion euros ($15.6 billion)
merger deal with rival Suez, posted higher first
quarter earnings on Wednesday and kept its 2021 financial
"Veolia is off to a flying start in 2021. This excellent
performance comes at a historical moment for our group," Veolia
Chairman and Chief Executive Antoine Frerot said in a statement.
In April, Veolia finally struck a merger deal with Suez
after months of wrangling between the two French waste and water
"On April 11th, we signed an agreement to purchase Suez
group and to create the undisputed world champion of ecological
transformation," Frerot said.
Veolia reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation
and amortization (EBITDA) for the first quarter ending March 31
of 1.078 billion euros, up from 970 million a year earlier.
Revenues rose 2 percent from last year to 6.81 billion
euros, while net income jumped by 58.7 percent to 186 million
"Despite the continued impact of sanitary crisis in the
beginning of the year, Veolia will more than offset 2020 and
deliver strong results growth in 2021," the group said.
For this year, Veolia is targeting revenues superior to the
2019 level, an EBITDA above four billion euros, and a net
financial debt below 12 billion euros - versus 13.1 billion at
the end of Q1 - at a "pre-crisis health policy."
Suez also reported rising sales and core profits for the
first quarter, boosted by recycling activities.
"This combination, which should be finalized by the end of
the year, opens up great development prospects at a time when
environmental priorities have never been higher on the agenda,"
added Frerot, commenting on the Veolia/Suez deal.
The new combined group will generate annual revenues of 37
billion euros, with a staff of 230,000 employees.
($1 = 0.8320 euros)
(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet and Benoit Van Overstraeten;
Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)