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* Swings to 2011 net loss of 490 mln eur
* Expects to have sold most of Veolia-Transdev stake in 2012
* Expects to close sale of UK water and U.S. waste this year
By Caroline Jacobs and Benjamin Mallet
PARIS, March 1 (Reuters) - Restructuring Veolia Environnement swung to a net loss last year but kept its financial goals on Thursday and said it was in exclusive talks with a possible buyer for its transport joint venture stake.
Veolia, whose chief executive, Antoine Frerot, is seen as on his way out despite a board coup against him failing, made a net loss of 489.8 million euros ($655 million) against a 2010 net profit of 558.5 million after an impairment charge of 440 million euros tied to the Veolia Transdev holding.
While the board of the waste, water and energy utility renewed its confidence in Frerot on Wednesday, Veolia is seen as in a state of flux as instability could drag on plans to sell 5 billion euros of assets and cut debt below 12 billion in 2013.
Still, Veolia shares rose 7.5 percent to 9.87 euros on Thursday on relief that the group kept its 2012-2013 objectives and showed its restructuring was progressing. Two profit warnings last year sent Veolia shares down more than 60 percent.
“In the next two years, Veolia will be judged on its capacity to execute its restructuring plan unveiled in December,” CM-CIC securities analyst Olivier Bails wrote in a note, rating the stock “sell”.
Veolia’s revenue rose 3.1 percent to 29.65 billion euros last year while adjusted operating income declined 10.1 percent to 1.7 billion in part due to asset impairments and the economic slowdown weighing on prices for water contracts it renegotiated with municipalities.
Frerot avoided answering questions about how he saw his future following media reports that Veolia’s founding father and board member Henri Proglio, backed by the government, tried to replace him with politician Jean-Louis Borloo. ($1 = 0.7476 euros) (Editing by James Regan)