FRENCH waste-management company Sita is seeking government approval to take over three concessions held by United States corporation Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI), including one for a massive landfill near Tuen Mun. This follows an agreement between Sita and BFI for the French company to acquire all BFI activities outside North America, creating the world's third largest waste-management company. The acquisition will cost 8.25 billion French francs (about HK$10.39 billion). If the deal goes ahead, Sita will pay BFI US$950 million in cash in exchange for the stock of BFI's subsidiaries in Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland and Switzerland. Sita will also issue new shares worth 2.7 billion francs in exchange for the stock in BFI's subsidiaries in Britain and New Zealand to give BFI a 20 per cent take in Sita. On Friday, Sita invited offers for 1.83 million new shares in the first stage of a cash-raising exercise to finance the BFI deal. The issue will run until March 13. A second 2.7 billion franc issue of new Sita shares, permitting BFI to become a shareholder with 19.2 per cent of Sita, will be proposed at the annual general meeting on March 31. Sita has pledged to go ahead with other parts of the merger even if the Hong Kong takeover is blocked by the Government. At issue is whether a monopoly could develop given Sita's 40 per cent stake in Far East Landfill Technologies, which operates the North-East New Territories landfill. BFI has a joint venture with Swire Pacific for a 25-year franchise to manage and operate the West New Territories landfill near Tuen Mun. BFI and Swire are also in partnership to operate two waste transfer stations and manage the restoration of a former landfill at Tseung Kwan O. Mike Stokoe, deputy director of the Environmental Protection Department, confirmed Sita's application was being considered carefully given that Sita would operate two of the SAR's three strategic landfills. Thierry Schwarz, Sita senior vice-president for international affairs, said government approval was necessary before the company could take over BFI's joint ventures.