United Utilities gives Goldman adviser role

Michael Bow
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UNITED Utilities, the UK’s biggest listed water company, has shored up its arsenal of financial advisers by adding heavyweight bankers from Goldman Sachs to sit along current stalwarts Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Cazenove.

The FTSE 100-listed company has added Goldman as part of an ongoing re-tendering process of its corporate advisers, a person close to the company said last night.

The appointment of Goldman was led by current chief financial officer Russ Houlden and came after six banks had been considered to take on the role.

Speculation the appointment was part of plans to beef up its team to face down a mooted takeover bid by a infrastructure consortium was played down last night after the source said Goldman’s appointment was simply part of good corporate governance.

Shares in the company soared last August on reports a consortium of sovereign wealth funds (SWF) and overseas pension plans were plotting to take the company private.

In January, speculation mounted that airport owner Global Infrastructure Partners, which owns Gatwick, had teamed up with two Canadian pension schemes to put a bid together.

Water companies like United Utilities offer attractive assets for long term investors, like SWFs and pension funds, given the slow, steady nature of their revenues and profits.