Thursday, 4 September 2014

After years of pressure, is Veolia quitting occupied Palestine?


According to reports in mid-July, Veolia has agreed to sell its activities in Israel to ‘funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management LP’, cutting the company’s debt by $341 million.

Veolia, the largest publicly-traded water company in Europe, is selling its water, waste, and energy businesses in Israel, and intends to ‘step back’ from the country as a marketplace.The news is a boost to Palestinians and global Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaigners, who have targeted the French multinational for ties to illegal Israeli settlements and their associated infrastructure in the Occupied West Bank.

According to reports in mid-July, Veolia has agreed to sell its activities in Israel to “funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management LP”, cutting the company’s debt by $341 million. The sale includes the company’s 50% stake in Ashkeon desalination plant.

Veolia described the divestment as part of a strategy to concentrate efforts on “less capital-intensive opportunities”. Importantly, a company spokesperson told Global Water Intelligence “that the group’s Israeli holdings are being sold as a full operating business rather than a collection of assets, and that Veolia would be stepping back from Israel as a marketplace“.

Paris-based Veolia spokesperson Sandrine Guendoul confirmed with me that the “divestment should be closed and completed by the end of the year”, since approval is required “from Israel’s competition authorities”.

Veolia remains complicit in the City Pass consortium-run Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), however, which links western Jerusalem to illegal settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank (and was the target of angry Palestinian protesters earlier this year). more

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