Thames Water hunting sewer backers

BRITAIN’S biggest water and sewage services provider will formally advertise for backers in May for its controversial £4bn supersewer.

Thames Water, owned by a group led by Australian investment bank Macquarie and including Chinese sovereign fund China Investment Corporation, is expected to get some of the project’s funding from its shareholders.

Thames plans to set up an investment vehicle for the sewer – formally called the Thames Tideway Tunnel – in a process led by UBS. Investors would be repaid with interest from increased water bills.

Thames submitted plans in December to hike water bills by 11 per cent for its 14m customers between 2015 and 2020.

Preliminary work on the 15-mile tunnel, which Thames Water has said was needed to provide additional capacity to London’s ageing sewer network, is due to start in 2015, assuming it gets permission from planning authorities.

Thames Water stated yesterday: “The Thames Tideway Tunnel will be financed and delivered by a separate independent utility company – an ‘infrastructure provider’, with its own licence from Ofwat. In January, we let investors know that we were preparing to start the competition process for this company and we have been very encouraged by the responses to that.

“In line with EU procurement rules, the procurement process has to be transparent, fair and non-discriminatory. That involves a requirement to open the competition to EU, and international, investors.”

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