http://www.morningstar.com/earnings/49135412-veolia-environnement-sa-adr-ve-q4-2012.aspx

Veolia Environnement SA ADR VE
Q4 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 02/28/2013

Operator:

Antoine Frerot - Chairman and CEO: (Abrupt Start)…accounting standards and in particular the ending of proportionate consolidation. I’ll then give the floor to Francois Bertreau, our new Chief Financing Officer in charge of the transformation of the Group drive who will talk about our cost-cutting program and he’ll now take the forward gain to give you our guidance.

To kick off, I’d like to say that at the end of the first year of the transformation program, Veolia is ahead of objectives and is now clearly on the path I had defined for the Group a little bit more than a year ago.

2012, first of all, witnessed a major change in the Group’s governance and organization. Also in 2012, an asset divestment and refocusing of our business activities and that led to a sharp drop in its date.

Furthermore, the cost-cutting program was vigorously launched and the savings at the end of this first year exceed expectations. As a result, thanks to that savings as well as the good performance of our growth platforms and also the fact that our Environmental Services held up very well in late 2012 despite a rather bleak environment.

Now operating cash flow and it's significantly improved at the end of the second half and we are somewhat ahead of the priority targets with fit for our growth.

Last year shareholders meeting, as you remember, appointed four new directors including Groupama, Maryse Aulagnon, Nathalie Rachou, Jacques Aschenbroich and Groupama SA and this year Henri Proglio resigned and Marion Guillou was coopt.

The Group also changed its organization appointing a new Chief Operating Officer in charge the Group's transformation and in particular, in charge of industrializing our (work admissions) Francois Bertreau, whom I am delighted to introduce today for the first time as we present our results. Francois, as you already heard, will be talking to you in a few minutes.

With respect to the Group's re-focusing, first of all, we wrapped up two major divestments, regulated water activities in the U.K. and solid waste in the U.S., but furthermore, we finalized 30 smaller transactions along with the usual financial disinvestments and that tottered EUR3.7 billion. Furthermore, changes in the Berlin water company shareholding and lead to additional deleveraging of EUR1.4 billion. So all-in-all, we have reduced our debt by EUR5.1 billion, whereas we had projected this program over two years. Some transactions that have already been signed have yet to produce their results, for instance, our pull out from Transportation.

As of 31st of December 2012, capital employed by the Group was concentrated on 48 countries. In the last 18 months, we have sold business units which we want to pull out from countries, you can see them here in red. We have closed down loss-making operations, in yellow here, or sold assets we wanted to discount, although we did not want to pull out from the country and that's where you have green dots.

At the end of 2013, the capital employed by the Group will be concentrated around 40 countries. Thanks to this divestment program, but also keeping in check of CapEx, as well as the excellent performance of working capital requirement, in particular, in Q4. Debt has contracted to a significant extent, which was at – at 31st of December 2012 it was down to EUR11.3 billion. You remember when our objective was to lower it under EUR12 billion as of 31st of December 2013, so we are more than a year ahead of this objective.

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