CEO of SUEZ details company's bullish outlook on China |
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CEO of SUEZ details company's bullish outlook on China

By YUAN SHENGGAO China Daily Updated: 2022-12-15

SUEZ Group, the French leading environmental solution provider, vows to further strengthen its market position in China, which it believes "will remain one of the company's top growth areas."

As the Chinese government has continued to prioritize environmental protection, massive growth opportunities for foreign companies have been made across the country. Sabrina Soussan, chairman and CEO of SUEZ, said she believed such opportunities would offer excellent prospects for foreign companies to contribute their technology and expertise.

The country will be a top priority for SUEZ's international development, she said.

As one of the world's leading water and waste management services companies, SUEZ entered China in the 1970s. Since then, it has witnessed the country's rapid development in combining economic growth and environmental protection.

SUEZ is one of the first global environmental enterprises to enter the market. It has invested, operated and grown in China for almost 50 years.

To date, SUEZ has built more than 400 water and wastewater treatment plants in China, providing drinking water and waste services to over 25 million people. Its smart and environmental solutions have been applied in places such as Shanghai, Chongqing, Macao, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The company is currently operating one of Asia's largest hazardous waste treatment plants in Shanghai, with a capacity of 120,000 metric tons per year.

The facility will provide for the safe and environmentally friendly disposal of hazardous waste, with a unit designed and built according to European standards in terms of air emissions.

"Asia, especially China, is key for the future of our group and our growth plans, as well as for value creation for our clients and our employees. We've been in China for 47 years and have seen tremendous environmental progress," Soussan said.

"With all the expertise and knowhow to respond to this market, SUEZ will work together with local partners to respond to the market globally," she added.

"The company's main business will aid the country's transition to a low-carbon economy, demonstrating its commitment to developing a long-term strategic partnership with China."

According to its latest strategic plan, SUEZ intends to generate around 50 percent of its revenue from international markets by 2027, and China will remain one of its top growth areas, and possibly even the top one, Soussan said.

"Our partnership culture is part of our DNA at SUEZ — not only in China, but everywhere. In China, it has been a factor for success — to have the right partner and to partner with Chinese local companies. These are win-win collaborations."

SUEZ usually conducts its businesses through joint ventures with local Chinese enterprises.

The growth in China will be in its two businesses, water and waste, and the company continued to win projects in 2022. SUEZ's success in China has been perfectly in line with the group's strategy.

"There are many opportunities which will continue to arise, especially with the priority that the Chinese government has given to environmental initiatives, as announced at the National People's Congress," said Soussan.

She added that the strong and highly expert team in China, which is one of the most talented in SUEZ globally, will further facilitate the company's continuous growth.

SUEZ first started with infrastructure construction for water facilities in China and then expanded to municipal water, industrial wastewater, waste management, including smart water operation and efficient performance management. SUEZ now works with municipal and industrial customers in more than 30 major cities and regions across China. Its Chongqing project has become a model of public-private partnership in China's water sector. Its water project in Macao is also recognized as a benchmark of operational excellence.

SUEZ is also very active in China's industrial sector. In Shanghai, the company has helped Shanghai Chemical Industry Park become the top chemical park in China, as well as a global model of eco-friendly and circular economy best practices.

In Dalian, SUEZ provides a wastewater solution that protects the ecosystem's integrity as well as the biodiversity of the national nature reserve.

"We've aligned our ambitions in China's environmental sector with the country's economic and development goals.

We also expect China to continue making improvements in the environment," she said.

"We believe we have a lot of solutions to offer. Furthermore, we already have solutions in China that are implemented and in operation."

SUEZ has adjusted to intensifying competition in the Chinese environmental market. Soussan addressed the competition from State-owned and private sector peers in China.

"We are a local company with many joint ventures where we partner with local players and local enterprises, which help us to be local and more competitive.

"We have a strong team in China together with a global network of expertise. China is a big part of this network. This is key to motivating and developing the people that we have in the country, since we can use the know-how that we have from all over the world."

SUEZ has been investing in China constantly, not only because of the country's market size but also the strong government willingness to invest in more environmentally friendly technologies and solutions.

Soussan said the company will continue to invest in organic growth in China and is open to mergers and acquisitions topics in China.

By the end of 2022, SUEZ will publish its sustainable development roadmap, outlining its contributions, ambitions and quantified targets for climate, nature conservation and social matters. Soussan said sustainable development is a core part of the group's strategy.

As a circular solutions key player, SUEZ contributes to China's ecological transformation. In Suzhou, its sludge project has been recognized as a model of excellence for circular economies.

It uses sludge to produce energy and also utilizes the recovered steam from the thermal-powered plants for its drying process. In Chongqing, SUEZ has a sewage treatment plant that is working toward self-sufficiency. Globally, SUEZ produces 8.3 terawatts of energy.

Going forward, while building on its strengths, SUEZ said it will also keep exploring innovation-driven growth or expansions into new sections of businesses in China.

"More and more, their challenges will be in water and waste management. This is what we want to be, and I believe we are already," Soussan said.

"We will be an even more trusted partner for circular solutions in water and for waste."