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According to the company's own account:

"SUEZ is the result of a merger between Compagnie de SUEZ and Lyonnaise des Eaux, which took place in June 1997. At the time, Compagnie de SUEZ, which had built and operated the SUEZ Canal until it was nationalized by the Egyptian government in 1956, was still a holding company with diversified equity investments in Belgium and France, mainly in the financial services and energy sectors. Lyonnaise des Eaux was a diversified company involved in water and waste management and treatment as well as construction, communications and the management of technical facilities" [1]


"At December 31, 2007, with revenues of 12.0 billion euros and 61,915 employees, the Group conducts its business as an operator in over 25 countries. The Group is a global reference player in the environmental market (water and waste). The Group is present in the fields of water management, wastewater treatment, water treatment engineering, and in the fields of waste collection, sorting, pre-treatment, recycling, and waste treatment. It operates both on behalf of public entities and private sector players. In 2007, through its activities, the Group supplied 68 million people with drinking water, and provided wastewater treatment services to 44 million people. In the same fiscal year, the Group provided collection services to nearly 46 million people in the world and over 400,000 industrial and commercial clients, collected nearly 23 million tons of household waste, industrial non-hazardous waste, and medical waste, and treated more than 42 million tons of waste" [2].

Mergers, acquisitions, businesses and risks

In July 2008 the energy division of Suez merged with French state energy company Gaz de France, creating GDF Suez. In one fell swoop the merger created 'the world's fourth largest energy utility by market capitalization, behind Russia's Gazprom, France's EDF and Germany's E.ON. The combined revenues of Suez and Gaz de France were about $117 billion, with earnings of almost $8.85 billion'[3]. Suez Environment, the water and waste division is 35% part owned by GDF Suez, as such there is quite an overlap on the board of Suez Environment from that of GDF Suez.

Suez has acquired various businesses, created a plethora of subsidiaries and ignited partnerships - often of the Public Private (PPP) kind - right across the world. Similar to its apparent rival Veolia - there are accusations that Veolia and Suez work in tandem to secure public contracts - Suez has deployed an expansive strategy, which like Veolia led to financial turbulence for them in the early parts of the 21st century. Like Veolia they expanded into countries that proved problematic, again just like Veolia they have sought various forms of corporate welfare, in the form of loans (soft), grants and subsidies from International Financial Institutions and donor governments to ofset this risk. In addition, like Veolia they have sought safer and less risky new markets. Especially affarmage contracts where they sell their expertise and skills to public authorities and companies, but are not expected to invest. Thats left to the customers and local governments.

Their businesses of energy, waste and water are of the most profound social and environmental importance. All societies require and desire efficient energy, waste and water sectors. Consequently, they are all politically sensitive policy areas. Its no surprise that Suez have a formidable and far reaching lobbying operation, with extensive political connections on their board and memberships and links to a huge amount of lobby networks, trade associations, think tanks and other institutions. Unsurprisingly Suez has secured a host of loans from various International Financial Institutions (IFI's) over the years; a situation tantamount to a form of corporate welfare. Yet Suez enjoys this corporate welfare, which comes ultimately from the worlds taxpayers and/or the tax payers and water customers of their host country, despite being embrolied in various corruption scandals over the years. It seems the worlds policy makers are so fervent in their belief in private provision; they are prepared to ignore and overlook scandal, incompetence, greed and failure in the private water sector.

Suez assesses potential risks to its operations. These risks include how the the Group’s water activities are exposed to 'economic cycles' with higher risks in developing, rather than in developed countries, especially with regard to political, regulatory, or economic instability' [4]. Given that they have over 5.22 billion Euros of debt [5] and the current volatility of the market; not just in in developing countries but also in supposed safe countries, as shown by by the recent economic crisis, it does highlight another of the potential perils in outsourcing, from state to market, such an essential service. Indeed the precarious nature of such reliance on markets will be felt within the corridors of the Suez boardroom: board member Edmund Alphandery was also, amongst other roles, a member of the European Advisory Board' for the now defunct Lehman Brothers [6].

Suez also identify changes to consumption patterns as a risk to their operations. Observing that consumption patterns have decreased as a result of increasing recognition that water needs to be preserved; they have tried to offset decreasing consumption, and thus decreasing revenue because of that. Therefore producing and developing other activities and services that give them 'greater added value in both drinking water production and distribution and wastewater treatment, notably helping public authorities to meet their obligation to respond to changes in regulations'. Yet they are concerned that these efforts may prove 'insufficient in the future to offset the reduction in volumes the Group may experience, there could be a negative impact on the activity, earnings, and outlook of the Group' [7]. Such pronouncements reveal how the interests of Suez may conflict with wider societal and environmental interests and policy.


In a world of ever increasing water use, especially by industry and business, its no revelation to report that they are working hard to ensure a favorable regulatory and legislative environment in which they operate. The prospect of increased social and environmental regulation far from being welcomed is seen as a risk. They state that 'The Group’s businesses are subject to environmental protection, public health, and safety rules that are increasingly restrictive and differ from country to country'. Adding 'the competent regulatory bodies have the power to institute administrative or legal proceedings against the Group, which could lead to the suspension or revocation of permits or authorizations held by the Group or injunctions to cease or abandon certain activities or services, fines, or civil or criminal penalties, which could negatively and significantly affect the public image, activity, financial position, earnings, and outlook of the Group' and that 'Regulatory changes may also affect prices, margins, investments, operations, and, therefore, the activity, earnings, and outlook of the Group' [8]. Yet they often attempt to portray themselves as guardians of the environment and the worlds natural resources rather than being concerned foremostly with costs and margins. Its no surprise then that they would attempt to influence the regulatory environment wherever they operate.

Lobbying assists in Masking their real objective which is to maintain the commoditisation and marketisation of those resources. Positioning themselves as best placed to benfit from the continuation and expansion of such a system. A clear example of this mindset is the CEO Water Manadate. The Polaris Institute write that 'Touted as an extraordinary call to action, it is a devious initiative by some of the global water giants to position themselves as environmental stewards while also exercising even more control over water management'. Moreover 'The last four areas (and their associated pledges) read like a handbook on how for-profit water companies can bring their agenda into every aspect of global, national, regional, and local water policy making. For example, in the collective action, public policy and community engagement areas of the Water Mandate, the CEOs state that corporations need to work closely with all levels of government, civil society and international institutions' [9].

Political Connections

As seems to be the way with the big water companies Suez has filled its boardroom with ex Government Ministers, European Commissioners, parliamentarians and political officials. Given the political nature of its operations this is unsurprising...however the ensuing disproportionate influence that this private company enjoys in the public sphere raises questions over whether the same influence or voice is given to or heard by citizens. This influence is assisted by the contacts, expertise and experience brought by the Suez employees and board members who have a political track record.

There is an wealth of political experience on the Suez board, predominantely from France but also from the EU, the UK and Canada.


Perhaps the most illustrious of these is Etienne Davignon a former European Commissioner between 1977 and 1985. Davignon was caught up in controversy in 2007 when it was discovered he was a special adviser to European Commissioner for Development, Louis Michel. There were concerns at a potential conflict of interest for Davignon given 'the large emphasis on infrastructure projects in Michel's Africa strategy, Davignon's role as adviser makes Suez very well prepared for the bidding process for these contracts' [10]. Lord Simon, a former UK Minister for European Trade and Competiveness between 1997-1999, also sits on the board of Suez.


Board member Jean-Francois Cirelli; he has wide experience of the French Government. 'From 1985 to 1995, (he) held management positions at the Treasury Department of the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, before becoming technical advisor to the President of the French Republic from 1995 to 1997, and economic advisor from 1997 to 2002. In 2002, he was appointed Assistant Director of the office of the French Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, in charge of economic, industrial, and social affairs' [11].

Valérie Bernis, 'she is a graduate in Economics from the University of Economics of Limoges. From 1986 to 1995, Valérie Bernis was press officer at the office of Edouard Balladur, Minister of the Economy and Privatization, then communication director of Cerus, then communication officer of Edouard Balladur, Député de Paris, and press officer for the Office of Prime Minister Edouard Balladur' [12].

Ex Chief Executive officer Yves-Thibault de Silguy. 'From 1976 to 1981, he worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then from 1981 to 1985, for the European Commission. He then worked at the French Embassy in Washington as a Counsellor (economic affairs) from 1985 to 1986. From 1986 to 1988, he was an adviser in the Prime Minister’s office with responsibility for European affairs and international economic and financial affairs' [13].

Board member Anne Lauvergeon has wide experience in both business and politics. In politics: 'Since 1990, she served as an Executive Assistant of the International Economy by the French president. Ms. Lauvergeon has been Ingénieur en chef of the Corps des Mines and is responsible for studying chemical safety-related issues in Europe for the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique (CEA) since 1984, mineral resources administrator for the Ile-de-France region since 1988, Deputy Department Head at the Conseil Général des Mines since 1988, special assistant for international economics and trade to the President of the French Republic since 1990, Deputy Secretary General of the organization of G7 summits for the President of the French Republic since 1991' [14].

Jérôme Monod is a Former Suez CEO: Monod has worked as chief of staff to French President Jacques Chirac [15].


Margaret Catley-Carson an ex Canadian Civil Servant is the Chair of the Water Resources Advisory Committee for Suez.

Links to Transnational Policy Networks, Think Tanks, Lobbyists and Trade Associations

Transnational Policy Networks

Suez have developed a strategy that sees no stone unturned in their lobbying efforts. They are active in vast global networks discussing the major geo-political issues of the day - of which water is one - and in regional, national and local areas of interest and concern. They are active at either end of the legislative and policy process; being visible before and after the formulation of policy and legislation. To optimise the chances of successful outcomes in their interests they employ key agents who are active in areas where they believe they can have most influence. This section will outline the organisations that they are involved in; from those global networks all the way through to national and local organisations and their lobbying efforts.

Suez is a member of the WBCSD, an organisation that has placed water as a priority for businesses when developing their strategies [16] while their board member Anne Lauvergeon in her capacity as Chairman of the Executive Board of AREVA is a Council member of the WBCSD. This places her in an important position given that Council Members are 'influential advocates for the WBCSD’s policy positions, and they co-chair our working groups' [17] Suez are members of the European Round Table of Industrialists, through their CEO Gerard Mestrallet [18].

Suez also have strong links with the secretive Bilderberg Group. Etienne Davignon was the Chairman and is now said to be the Honorary Chairman of the Bilderberg Group [19]; though this is hard to confirm given the secretive nature of the Bilderberg Group. Etienne Davignon did publicly defend the Bilderberg Group in 2005 [20]; a rare occurrence the interview was prompted by a BBC programme Who Runs Your World, which discussed the Bilderberg Group. Another board member of Suez Paul Desmarais Jnr attended the annual BilderbergGroupmeeting in 2008, as did Bertrand Collomb the honorary chairman of Lafarge and ex Chairman of the WBCSD [21]. While its said that Jean-Pierre Hansen Executive Vice President of GDF SUEZ in charge of the Energy Europe and International Business Line attended in 2007 [22].

Lord Simon, A Director of Suez, is and has been a member of the Trilateral Commission for some years. Today he has other directors of Suez for company in the Trilateral Commission Edmond Alphandéry and Anne Lauvergeon [23]. Lord Simon has not declared this interest on the House of Lord Register of Interests, not now [24] or in the past (2005) [25].

Suez are also an industry partner of the World Economic Forum. The World Economic Forum has recently taken an interest in water, working from the point of view of all businesses in the water cycle: the water providers, the water financiers and the industrial users [26].

Jerome Menod ex CEO of Suez is also a former chairman of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue [27].

While not directly a member of the European Services Forum Suez is a member of the employers federation in France Mouvement des Entreprises de France - MEDEF, which is in turn a member of BusinessEurope and which is a member of the European Services Forum. The European Services Forum is an organisation working in the interests of providers of services such as Suez; lobbying hard for the liberalisation of services in Europe and throughout the world.

Think Tanks

Lord Simon is on the board of the Centre for European Reform and the Centre for European Policy Studies[28], as is fellow Suez director Etienne Davignon [29]. Etienne Davignon is also President of the influential Brussels Think Tank Friends of Europe.

The Water Lobby and water trade associations

There are many water lobbies and trade associations busily working within the water policy debate. Often with overlapping memberships they are clearly seen by Suez as a means to lobby and act for them in the various policy arenas now discussing water and its governance.

Perhaps the most prominent is the World Water Council. Seen by many as being given a legitimacy way above what it merits, the World Water Council is seen by policy makers and governments as the most prominent organisation for debating future policy direction in water. The World Water Forum, a tri-annual conference is the forum organised by the World Water Council, that brings together thousands of water activists, politicians, business, International Financial Institutions, bankers, supranational governance actors, NGO's etc from from across the world to discuss water policy and governance issues. Renee Coloumb of Suez was a founder of this event. Suez is a member of the World Water Council.

Suez is also a member of the International Water Association, the Global Water Partnership, the WSSTP and EUREAU, the International Office of Water. It was also a member of the World Commission for Water in the 21st Century.

Gerard Payen, Ex Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Suez Subsidiary Ondeo, is now President of the International Federation of Private Water Operators (AquaFed). This increasingly active lobbyist for the private water industry is said to have been started by Suez and Veolia [30] to lobby on their behalf.

Corporate Welfare

The Lobbying, networking, cajoling and persuading by Suez in all the different ways that it does is not done aimlessly. They quite obviously have clear aims: one is to achieve an appropriate legislative and regulatory environment at local and international levels, the other is to help ensure a sort of corporate welfare scheme is wrought from donor governments, supranational governance agencies and multi-lateral International Financial Institutions. Suez has proved particularly successful in this pursuit. They have benefited through the donations of soft loans and grants from various agencies to provide a service and (supposed) technological expertise to various countries, seemingly not available in the host countries. They themselves rarely invest their own money.

It has been well documented that they have been given loans and grants from IFI's in the past. The Polaris Institute produced a Corporate Profile of Suez that outline some of the places where such Corporate Welfare has taken place. These include Argentina where the International Finance Corporation (IFC) provided Aguas Argentina, a Suez subsidiary, with loans of $150 million. Brazil, the Suez subsidiary, Aguas De Amazonas got $19 million in loans from the state owned national development bank BNDES, and Vietnam where they were given $154 million by Malaysian and European Export Credit agencies [31]. There has been various examples of such corporate welfare since.

A major area of expansion and corporate welfare has been China. In 2006 Suez signed an agreement with Chongqing city. "Building on their earlier strategic partnership established in 2005, this set up a 50/50 joint venture between the Water Company of Chongqing and the Suez subsidiary, Sino-French Water Development to implement a major new wastewater treatment initiative in the region....together with the implementation of integrated solid waste management – has an anticipated total cost of $500 million. In June 2000, the World Bank approved a $250 million soft loan, the remainder being financed by the Government and the China State Development Bank" [32]. In soliciting this contract its apparent Suez have worked hard. A clue to this was given in a Suez Environment press release, it describes how the Chairman of Suex Environment Gérard Mestrallet "was appointed Chairman of Chongqing Mayor’s Council in September 2006 and chaired the Council the first two years. He is now the Honorary Chairman of this Council which is composed of some 30 international senior business executives which meet every year to discuss the industrial development of the municipality" [33].

In Jordan in August 2008 a Suez subsidiary signed an agreement to build and operate a new wastewater treatment plant there. "The contract signed between the Samra Plant Company (owned by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, Infilco Degrémont Inc and The Morganti Group Inc.) and the Jordanian Government, represented by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, covers the design, financing, construction and 22-year operation of the treatment plant for a price of USD 169 million. This Public-Private Partnership is the first Build Operate Transfer (BOT) project in Jordan and the first BOT project supported by USAID, which provided USD 78 million, supplemented by the Jordanian Government for USD 14 million, the Samra Plant Comany (SPC) for USD 17 million USD, and a consortium of banks led by The Arab Bank for USD 60 million. The Samra Plant Company will receive USD 17 Million per year from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation as Treatment Fees during the 22-year operation period" [34].

In India this year "on 24 January 2008, during the French President’s visit to India, Degrémont, a subsidiary of Suez Environment, signed a contract with the Mumbai authorities for the design, construction and 4 years’ operation of one of the largest drinking water treatment plants in the country. In addition, Degrémont was very recently awarded another contract to design, build and operate a wastewater treatment and reuse plant in Delhi. These two contracts are together worth €86 million (Rs 4.9 billion)". "To meet population and urban developments, the city of Mumbai, one of the largest cities in the world has awarded Degrémont a contract for the construction of a new drinking water treatment plant. This contract worth 59 million euros (Rs 3.4 billion), is financed 30% by the Central Governmentl1, 20% by the State Government of Maharashtra and the remaining 50%, directly by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM)". "The Delhi Jal Board, the public authority responsible for drinking water and sanitation in Delhi, has also recently awarded Degrémont a contract for the design, construction and 10-year operation of a wastewater treatment and reuse plant at Okhla in the south of the city for a total cost of 27 million euros (Rs 1.5 billion): fully funded by a loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)" [35].

Central and Eastern Europe is an area that Suez is increasigly seeking to penetrate. Not least because of the corporate welfare available from IFI's, such as the European Investment Bank, the European Bank For Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank and its regional banks and subsidiaries. An example of this was a contract signed to provide a wastewater treatment plant in Hungary. "The total contract value of €290 million includes nearly €250 million for design and construction and €41 million for four years’ operation. The project is funded by the European Cohesion Fund, the Hungarian government, Budapest City Council and the European Investment Bank" [36]. Incidentally this consortium contracted to provide this also includes Veolia.

In July 2008 the European Investment Bank agreed to loan Acea, the Italian water and energy provider, EUR 200 Million to finance Water and wastewater projects. According to the European Water Partnership "The investment programme under the concession "ATO2 Lazio Centrale - Roma" contributes to ACEA's compliance with key EU water sector Directives" [37]. Suez, as a 9% stakeholder [38] in Acea will be a beneficiary of this agreement

Political ambivalence, Failure and Corruption

Suez have recieved, and continue to recieve, significant tranches of corporate welfare from all of the main International Financial Institutions (IFI's) despite a patchy record, to say the least, across the world in service provision. For instance they have failed and fled in and from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Manilla in the Phillipines and Atlanta in the USA. In all of these cases the criticisms have been consistently similar. Insufficient investment, insufficient connections to the poor, disconnections to those unable to pay, increased prices, lobbying for ever more increases, cutbacks to the workforce; all in all a tide of broken promises has tarnished the reputation of Suez across the world [39].

Their purpose is profit not altruism however, thus they go where the profit is no matter the wider social or political circumstances. They have been in South Africa since the terrible days of Apartheid, when their subsidiary Degremeont "won a contract to design and construct water and wastewater plants. Suez was awarded hundreds of contracts from the Apartheid government to supply clean water to the white minority while the needs of the black majority were ignored" [40].

According to Public Citizen "In Johannesburg, Suez has installed pre-paid water meters in one of the poorest townships, Orangefarm (and requires residents there to physically unblock sewer pipes every three months). Pre-paid meters require consumers to pay for their water before they use it and automatically cut-off water users when more money is owed. The use of pre-paid meters has been linked to cholera outbreaks in KwaZulu Natal. Suez has ignored the UK high-court ruling forbidding pre-paid meters and is intent on testing these meters in Africa to increase the company’s profitability" [41].

The experience of South African users of Suez supplied water services is similar to that experienced elsewhere. Polaris Institute describe how "Between 1994 and 1999, water rates increased by 300%in three rural low income, Eastern Cape municipalities, Queenstown, Stutterheim and Fort Beaufort (Nkonkobe).142 By 1996 a typical household was paying 30% of its average $60 per month salary for water, sewer and electricity bills. While the majority of residents could not pay their utility bills, the municipality in Queenstown appointed special debt collectors and very high re-instatement fees were applied. In 2000 the assistant treasurer of Nkonkobe reported that the majority of actions were taken against debtors who were unemployed or pensioners" [42].

An ambivalence to either the social consequences of their company strategies or the political climate of countries where they operate is also characterised by their presence in Indonesia. Invited at the behest of the dictator General Suharto, they alongside Thames Water won a lucrative contract to provide water services, much of it paid for by loans from the World Bank and Japan, yet there was no open and transparent bidding process. Moreover, 6 years after the privatisation contracts were signed its said that most of the poor in Jajarta remain without piped water services [43].

Suez has also attracted controversy in its own country of France. "In July 2002, Suez and Vivendi Environment (now Veolia Environment) came under investigation by French antitrust authorities over the alleged abuse of their dominant position through various joint-ventures the companies have set up in a number of French cities" [44].

In October 2002 in France – A corruption investigation involving a former Suez executive, Raymond Roux, an RPR (Rassemblement pour la Republique) Congressman, Richard Cazenave, and a Swiss financial advisor was reopened to investigate allegations of corruption.105 The parties are accused of funneling revenues from false invoices created by a Suez subsidiary – a heating company – through Swiss bank accounts to help fund the political career of Cazenave during the years when he was President Chirac’s chief of staff (until 1993) [45].

In Grenoble, France between 1995-2000 – "A corruption investigation involving Suez concluded that the Grenoble’s water service was privatized in exchange for contributions by the company to former Suez executive Alain Carignon’s electoral campaign. In 1995, Carignon who was by then minister in the central government, and Jean-Jacques Prompsey, a then Lyonnaise executive and chief executive of Suez subsidiary SITA, were both convicted of respectively accepting and paying bribes. They were both sentenced to prison terms. In March 2000 Grenoble city council voted to remunicipilize their water system" [46].

Between 1989-1996– "The construction units of Bouygues, Suez, and Vivendi (Veolia) were all the subject of a major judicial investigation in France over allegations that they participated in a corrupt cartel between 1989 and 1996". "The three corporations are alleged to have shared contracts for the building of schools in the Ile de France region surrounding Paris worth approximately US$500 million, to the exclusion of other bidders. In addition, it has been alleged that a 2 percent levy was to be charged on all contracts for use in support of political parties in the region. This arrangement (assuming it is proven) was described in Le Monde as “an agreed system for the misappropriation of public funds”" [47].

If Eric Swyngedou is right then these instances outlined above should come as no surprise, he writes how "forms of bribery, under-the-table deals, greasinghands to facilitate certain contractual arrangements and financial contributions to political allies all belong to the standard tool-kit of privatised water utilities" [48].

Suez has also accrued fines and lawsuits in various countries across the world; in the USA, Peru, Belgium, Argentina and Lesotho. They have also encountered controversy over the environmental impact of their activities and pollution incidents places as far afield as Millwaukee, New Jersey, India and the UK [49].

Suez also have previous in the gas sector. It was reported in 2006 that "Europe's utility giants have been raided by inspectors from the European Commission, seeking evidence of market rigging and abusive behaviour by dominant companies in the gas sector. Dawn raids took place at some of Europe's largest companies, including Germay's RWE and E.ON. Also inspected were Gaz de France and Suez, the two French utilities" [50]. Suez and Gaz De France have since merged.

Suez in Scotland

Suez is a powerful player in global lobbying efforts to commercialise and privatise water services. As documented above they actively and aggresively lobby for a policy environment conducive to their interests. They also have key individuals with experience in the political arena to carry out these efforts. As such Suez, through their lobbying efforts, alongside other major players such as Veolia can, and do, have an influence over water policy and services both in Scotland and elsewhere. The dominant policy prescription currently espoused by many national parliaments, supranational agencies and International Financial Institutions is one that corresponds with Suez and other private utilities. Its difficult not to conclude therefore that their lobbying efforts in various political arenas has bore rich pickings for them. Both in terms of their winning public contracts and in the corporate welfare that they recieve in the form of (soft) loans, grants, subsidies and tax breaks.

Suez is active in Scotland in various guises and locations. Through their subsidiary Ondeo they were granted a licence to operate in the non-domestic sector. They state how "On the 7th May 2008 the Water Industry Commission for Scotland granted Ondeo Industrial Solutions (SUEZ) a water services licence and a sewerage services licence in line with the opening of the Scottish water market which enables all non-domestic customers to choose their water supplier.

This enables Ondeo IS to start marketing to and signing up new customers for the supply of water and sewerage services. Ondeo IS is planning to start delivering to its new customers early in the summer subject to the final approval from the market authorities.

This new offering will complement the services that Ondeo IS already provide its customers including the operations and maintenance of water and waste water systems, water audits and consultancy, project management, engineering services, and equipment supply and installation" [51].

Ondeo Industrial Solutions is the key partner with INEOS at the Grangemouth Petrochemical Plant. They state how they have "secured a 20 year contract to manage the site's water and wastewater infrastructure. In total Ondeo IS has 30 staff on site managing full operations and maintenance of 2 demineralisation plants, 7 cooling systems, 3 wastewater plants and all associated equipment and infrastructure".

Moreover, they proclaim how "Ondeo Industrial Solutions through its unique turnkey approach to identify, design, construct, fund and operate value creating projects have saved INEOS over 6 MGBP per annum and created benefits in production availability and reliability. These projects have included sludge management and disposal, recycling effluent for use in cooling water systems, infrastructure management and repairs, and installation of boiler control systems minimising unnecessary blowdown and waste".

Furthermore, they proudly declare that "Ondeo Industrial Solutions brings operational and engineering expertise with a strong health and safety culture with accreditations to ISO 9001:2000 (Quality), ISO 14001 (Environment), OHSAS 18001 (Health and Safety) and Investors in People. Ondeo IS identifies and solves issues as well as delivering and funding value creating projects allowing INEOS to concentrate on its core business of oil refining and petrochemical production" [52].

They fail to mention anywhere however the serious breach of environmental regulations in July 2007 when they polluted the Forth River with an oil slick that covered ten miles of what is an internationally important ecological site.

"Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that Ondeo staff were carrying out maintenance work on tanks and pipes in a storm water plant in July last year when heavy rainfall inundated the Stirlingshire plant.The overflow tank, designed to store waste water awaiting treatment in storm conditions, was missing half of its storage space - a total of eight million litres - while tons of sludge that had built up inside were cleared out. It was also missing one of its three separator pipes, which remove oil from waste water in heavy rain. As a result, water containing 103 milligrams of oil per litre was pumped into the Firth of Forth, causing an oil slick several miles long"[53].

A key concern emanating from the case was that they had no contingency plan is place to prevent the leak from happening. "Sheriff Craig Caldwell said the firm should have had a 'contingency plan' in place for extreme weather during their maintenance programme"[54].

While "Colin Bayes, of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), said: 'The area is of high nature conservation value, for which it is recognised by a number of national and international special designations"[55]. Fiscal depute Graham McLachlan stated in court: "the oil slick hit at a time of year when the number of birds was low, and there were no reports of oiled birds or fish. He added: "Mercifully, the environmental impact was much reduced" [56].

"Meanwhile, SEPA revealed that the Grangemouth refinery, along with Longannet in Fife, Scotland's biggest coal-power station, had failed to meet legal pollution standards. SEPA figures showed that both facilities failed their regulatory Operator Performance Assessment" [57].

Another concern was the paltry nature of the fine. Duncan Maclaren of Friends of the Earth Scotland said that such a low fine is "meaningless". And how "Scotland has a history of poor enforcement of environment law and this is unfortunately all too typical in that even when a gross polluter is taken to court, they walk away with a fine which is utterly pennies in comparison with corporate resources," [58].

The Suez subsidiary Degremont has also been active in Scotland over last few years. Degremont have been a key beneficiary of the use of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes to build and operate seweage and wastewater treatment plants in Scotland. They are part of a consortium that built and now operate wastewater schemes at Ayr, through Ayr Environmental Services, at Levenmouth through Caledonian Environmental Services and Inverclyde through Ayr Environmental Services [59].

The upgrade at Levenmouth in Fife has not been without its problems. According to the local newspaper in 2005 there was an appalling stench, which blighted residents' lives for three years [60]. Degremont are currently involved in a litigation contest against Caledonian Environmental Services relating to works done at Levenmouth. Degremont are pursuing them for "(1) for declarator of entitlement to extension of time, (2) for payment of £27 million, (3) for payment of £6,634,101.90 and (4) payment of £8,204. The defender (Caledonian Environmental Services) counterclaims for the following sums: (1) £2,039,000, (2) £4,985,702.40, (3) £800,000, (4) £850,000, (5) £3,939,142.20 and (6) £13,552,569.28" [61].

In May 2008 the Business Council for Sustainable Development (BCSD) held a meeting that discussed Water Competition in Scotland. At the meeting Ondeo Industrial Solutions UK Managing Director, Laurence Bower and the Regulator from the WICS, Alan Sutherland, both spoke extolling the virtues of competition in Scotland [62].

Another contact that they have in Scotland is Dr Patricia Wouters Director, of the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science based at Dundee. Dr Wouters is a member of Suez's Foresight Advisory Council, Suez themselves mention little of this council, thus the work that it does remains something of a mystery. In 2004 Dr Patricia Wouters made clear that major improvements in the world's water supplies will require private investment. "We are deluding ourselves if we think the public sector can meet the demand without new money from the private sector" she said [63]. Coincidentally, Dr Patricia Wouters has also recently met the Chief Executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, Alan Sutherland. He travelled to Dundee to see her on the 3 March 2007 and delivered a lecture there on the 22 March 2007 [64]

Major Shareholders

Shareholder % of capital

1. 1.8% of which are controlled by SUEZ group employees, notably through FCPE. [65]


Board of Directors Suez Environnement

The SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT* Board of Directors is comprised of 18 members, including:

9 representatives of the GDF SUEZ Group, 5 directors representing the other shareholders of the agreement: Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (2), Areva (1), CNP (1) and Sofina (1), 4 independent directors, jointly nominated by the parties to the shareholders' agreement as proposed by the Chairman of the Board.

b. 1949, French

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GDF Suez Chairman of the Board of Directors of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT

b. 1952, French

Chief Executive Officer

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

Gérard Lamarche b. 1962, Belgian

Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer of GDF Suez

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

b. 1958, Spanish CEO of the Agbar group Chairman of CETaqua (Spain)

b. 1959, French

Vice-President, Chief Executive Officer of GDF Suez

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

b. 1959, French

Director of Communications and Financial Communications of GDF Suez

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

b. 1952, French

Director of the Energy Services Branch

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

b. 1952, French

Director of Strategy and Sustainable Development of GDF Suez

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

b. 1948, Belgian

Assistant Director of the Europe & International Energy branch

Member of the Executive Committee of GDF SUEZ

b. 1946, Belgian

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Carrefour SA

Vice-President of the Power Corporation of Canada.

b. 1948, French

Chief Executive Officer of Areva

b. 1967, Belgian Director of Shareholdings and Investment, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert

b. 1947, French

CEO of CNP Assurance

b. 1965, Belgian

Managing Director of Sofina

b. 1958, Belgian

Chairman and CEO of the SNCF

b. 1943, American

Director of AXA, a member of the Axa Group Audit Committee and a member of the Selection, Ethics, Governance and Human Resources Committee of the AXA Group.

b. 1959, Spanish

CEO of the Arnault SAS Group

b. 1956, Belgian

Partner in E.Gutzwiller & Cie [66].

Executive Committee

The executive committee of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT is the company’s steering body.

It is comprised of 23 members, most of whom have been with the company for at least 10 years.

A select team, comprised of 6 members, forms the Management Committee. It is responsible for the general management of the company.

  • Christophe Cros, Chief Operating Officer of Waste Europe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SITA France

  • Denys Neymon, Senior Executive Vice President for Human Resources

Key facts and figures

  • 68 million inhabitants supplied with drinking water
  • 44 million inhabitants benefit from SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT wastewater treatment services

Water and sanitation management

  • 1,729 drinking water production units
  • 1,597 wastewater treatment sites
  • 3.2 billion m³ of drinking water distributed
  • 5 billion m3 of drinking water produced
  • 2.6 billion m3 of wastewater treated
  • Nearly 200,000 km of drinking water distribution networks

And more specifically for Degrémont…

  • 250 seawater desalination plants worldwide
  • 290 ultra-filtration plants

Industrial water

  • More than 200 operating and maintenance contracts on industrial sites
  • 1,800 process water treatment stations
  • and 2,000 wastewater treatment stations built for industrial customers.

Engineering & Consultancy

  • Safege is established on 5 continents.
  • References and contracts in more than 100 countries
  • Subsidiaries and permanent sites in 25 countries [68].


  1. Suez 2007 Reference Document
  3. Chris Eales, Alan Kovski, 'New French energy giant GDF Suez officially launched following merger of GDF and Suez', Global Power Report (July 24 2008)
  5. Ibid
  6. Gdf Suez Members of the Board, Accessed 27th October 2008
  9. Polaris Institute Coke, Nestlé and Suez push greenwashing envelope to the highest level (July 23 2007)
  10. Corporate European Observatory Chronology of the controversy about Davignon's conflict of interests, (March 30 2007), Accessed 27 October 2008
  13. Vinci Management Yves-Thibault de Silguy Biography Accessed 27th October 2008
  14. Business Week, Anne Lauvergeon Biography Accessed 28th October 2008
  15. Polaris Institute Suez Corporate Profile, (July 2005), (Accessed 28 October 2008)
  16. World Business Council For Sustainable Development Water, Accessed 28 October 2008,
  17. World Business Council for Sustainable Development Membership and Governance, Accessed 28th October 2008
  18. European Round Table of Industrialists Memberships A-Z, Accessed 28 October 2008
  19. Alex Jones Infowars Official Bilderberg Participant List 2008, Accessed 28 October 2008
  20. BBC News Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group, (29 September 2005), Accessed 28 October 2008,
  21. Alex Jones Infowars Official Bilderberg Participant List 2008, Accessed 28 October 2008
  22. Bilderberg.Org The Bilderberg Conference 2007, 31st May to 3rd June 2007, Istanbul Accessed 28 October 2008
  23. The August Review, The Global Elite Research Center Commission Membership Lists 2008, Accessed 30 October 2008
  24. House of Lords Register Of Interests 2008 Accessed 30 October 2008
  25. House of Lords Register Of Interests 2005 Accessed 30 October 2008
  26. World Economic Forum The Water Initiative, Accessed 30 October 2008
  27. Transatlantic Business Dialogue History, Chairman, Accessed 30 October 2008,
  28. House of Lords Register Of Interests 2005 Accessed 30 October 2008
  29. Centre For European Policy Studies (CEPS), CEPS Board of Directors, Accessed 30 October 2008,
  30. CEO Aquafed: a front group for Suez and Veolia? Accessed 31 October 2008,
  31. Polaris Institute Corporate Profile Suez 2005 (p25-26), Accessed 31 October 31,
  32. Water Technology.Net Wastewater Project, Three Gorges Dam, China, Accessed 31 October 2008,
  33. Suez Environment Press Releases Press Release 09/29/2008 - Two agreements with Chongqing Water Group, Accessed 31 October 2008,
  34. Suez Environment Press Releases Press Release 08/25/2008 - A first in the Middle East: the residents of Jordan's capital, Amman, will receive a new wastewater treatment plant that will be 95% self-sufficient in energy, Accessed 31 October 2008
  35. Suez Environment Press Releases Press Release 01/24/2008 - In India, Degremont wins two contracts worth €86 million for a drinking water treatment plant in Mumbai and a wastewater reuse plant in Delhi Accessed 31 October 2008
  36. Suez Environment Press Releases Press Release 01/30/2006 - Degrémont wins €290 Million contract for wastewater treatment facility in Budapest, Hungary Accessed 1 November 2008
  37. European Water News EIB Finances Roman Water Investments (22/07/2008) Accessed 5 December 2008
  38. French Business Digest, 'French GDF-Suez To Tie Up with Italian Acea July 2008' (July 2, 2008)
  39. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 28th November 2008, and Public Citizen, A Report By Public Citizen, Suez a Corprate Profile Accessed 28th November 2008
  40. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 29th November 2008
  41. Public Citizen, A Report By Public Citizen, Suez a Corprate Profile Accessed 28th November 2008
  42. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 29th November 2008
  43. Public Citizen, A Report By Public Citizen, Suez a Corprate Profile Accessed 28th November 2008
  44. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 29th November 2008
  45. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 29th November 2008
  46. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 29th November 2008
  47. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 29th November 2008
  48. Swyngedou, Eric, 'The Water Mandarins: Turning Water into global money' In Arena Magazine (October 1st 2004)
  49. Polaris Institute, Corporate Profile Suez Accessed 30th November 2008
  50. 'Need to Know' The Times (May 18th 2006) (p46)
  51. Ondeo Scottish Water Supply and Sewerage Services License Granted to Ondeo Industrial Solutions Ltd Accessed 1st December,
  52. Ondeo IS, Our references INEOS, Grangemouth, GBR Accessed 4th December 2008,
  53. Robertson, John (July 16 2008) 'Fury as company fined only £3,000 over oil spill in Forth' Daily Mail, (p27)
  54. Robertson, John (July 16 2008) 'Fury as company fined only £3,000 over oil spill in Forth' Daily Mail, (p27)
  55. Robertson, John (July 16 2008) 'Fury as company fined only £3,000 over oil spill in Forth' Daily Mail, (p27)
  56. Haworth, Jenny (July 16th 2008)'Meaningless' GBP 3,000 fine for nine-mile oil slick in Forth', The Scotsman (p14)
  57. Robertson, John (July 16 2008) 'Fury as company fined only £3,000 over oil spill in Forth' Daily Mail, (p27)
  58. Haworth, Jenny (July 16th 2008)'Meaningless' GBP 3,000 fine for nine-mile oil slick in Forth', The Scotsman (p14)
  59. Pinsent Masons Water Yearbook, (p196)
  60. Fife Free Press 'Will This Kill The Methil Ming? (October 12th 2005)
  62. Ondeo Industrial Solutions UK 12-05-2008: Ondeo Industrial Solutions to present at BCSD meeting on 15th May 2008 Accessed 4th December 2008
  63. Edwards, Rob 'Trade deal may privatise Scottish water ;Public ownership of Scotland's water supply under threat as big business begins talks at World Trade Organisation', The Sunday Herald (March 21 2004) (p10)
  64. Alan Sutherland Diary, Obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, (November 2008),
  66. Suez Environnement Suez Environnement Corporate Governance, Board Of Directors Accessed 3 December 2008
  67. Suez Environnement Suez Environnement Corporate Governance, Executive Committee Accessed 3 December 2008
  68. Suez Environnement Facts and Figures 2007 - 2008 (08/12/08) (p5-p13) Accessed 1 December 2008