FRANCE: State-owned investment body Caisse des Dépôts announced on July 22 that it had decided to enter into exclusive negotiations with Veolia Environnement with a view to merging their Transdev and Veolia Transport subsidiaries.

The new company would be owned equally by Caisse des Dépôts and Veolia Environnement, have revenues totalling €8bn and employ 130 000 people.

Caisse des Dépôts intends to become a long-term investor in the merged entity, which would be floated on the stock market when conditions permit.

The merger is subject to a definitive agreement being reached as well as regulatory approval; it already has the support of Paris transport operator RATP, which owns a 25·6% stake in Transdev.

'The planned merger with Transdev is guided by very powerful industrial logic and is perfectly consistent with Veolia Environnement's strategy, which sees transport as a key component of its environmental services offering', said Henri Proglio, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veolia Environnement. 'This merger opens up outstanding growth prospects benefiting the personnel, clients and shareholders of Veolia.'