Compagnie Générale des Eaux
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CGE's core activity was water supplying and it still exists under the name Veolia Water, a division of the world's biggest environment service company, Veolia Environnement. It was at once part of Vivendi.
On December 14, 1853, a water company named Compagnie générale des eaux (CGE) was created by an Imperial decree of Napoleon III. In 1854, CGE obtained a concession in order to supply water to the public in Lyon, serving in this capacity for over a hundred years. In 1861, it obtained a 50-year concession with the City of Paris.
Guy Dejouany's era
For more than a century, Compagnie générale des eaux remained largely focused on the water sector. However, following the appointment of Guy Dejouany as CEO in 1976, CGE extended its activities into other sectors with a series of takeovers.
Beginning in 1980, CGE began diversifying its operations from water into waste management, energy, transport services, and construction and property. It acquired the Compagnie générale d'entreprises automobiles (CGEA), specialized in industrial vehicles, which was later divided into two branches: Connex and Onyx Environnement. CGE then acquired the Compagnie générale de chauffe, and later the Montenay group. The Energy Services division these companies became part of, was later (1998) renamed Dalkia. During this period the company also had a healthcare subsidiary, Generale de Santé, which it sold to Cinven in 1997.
In 1983, CGE helped to found Canal+, the first Pay-TV channel in France, and in the 1990s, they began expanding into telecommunications and mass media, especially after Jean-Marie Messier succeeded Guy Dejouany on June 27, 1996. In 1996, CGE created Cegetel to take advantage of the 1998 deregulation of the French telecommunications market, accelerating the move into the media sector which would culminate in the 2000 demerger into Vivendi Universal and Vivendi Environnement (Veolia).
Vivendi and CGE's legacy
In 1998, Compagnie générale des eaux changed its name to Vivendi
CGE is the predecessor of three world's leaders in their respective fields:
- VINCI, the largest construction company in the world by revenue;
- Veolia Environnement, the world's largest environment service and private water company;
- Vivendi, international media conglomerate with activities in music (Universal Music Group), television (Canal+ Group) and film (Vivendi Entertainment), publishing, telecommunications (Maroc Telecom, GVT and SFR), the Internet, and video games (Activision Blizzard).
- Larsen, Ross; Smith, Heather (4 March 2009). "Vinci Rises Most in Two Months on Net Gain, Outlook". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2009-04-19.