The 2010 Global Water Awards: Water Company of the Year

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Striving for the high watermark. The complete list of companies and projects which have been shortlisted for this year’s Global Water Awards. This month, GWI is proud to announce the shortlisted entries for the 12 categories featured in the 2010 Global Water Awards. Voting will open soon, and the awards themselves will be presented by Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan at a special ceremony to be held in Paris on 26 April in conjunction with the Global Water Summit 2010: Transforming the World of Water.

For the water company that has made the most significant contribution to the development of the international water sector during 2009.

Acciona Agua

What is it?
The water services arm of Spanish construction group Acciona.

What has it done?
In 2009, Acciona Agua more than justified its role as one of the three pillars of the Acciona group by broadening the scope of its service offering, and penetrating new geographical markets. In February, the company broke into the Australian desalination market by taking the 280,000m3/d Adelaide contract. Deals in Italy, Brazil and the Dominican Republic followed, before the company rounded off the year by winning the contract to build the world’s largest wastewater treatment plant at Atotonilco in Mexico.

What makes it special?
* In 2009, Acciona Agua cemented its position as one of the leading global water services companies, taking its offering to an ever more diverse client base, and dramatically increasing the proportion of revenues it generates from abroad. The win in Adelaide follows two years of hard preparatory work with its partner United Utilities, and opens up a wealth of further opportunities in Australia.


* Two years ago, Acciona Agua had no exposure in Latin America. Following its desalination breakthrough in Venezuela in 2008, the company took its expertise across the Caribbean to the Dominican Republic in 2009, while securing a key wastewater O&M contract with Brazil’s second-largest private water utility Copasa. As the year drew to a close, the Acciona consortium emerged victorious in the battle to win the record-breaking 4.5 million m3/d WWTP at Atotonilco in Mexico.
* With the full support and financial clout of the Acciona group behind it, Acciona Agua’s ambitions are bold but prudent. The company is short-listed for a 66,000m3/d desalination DBO in Florida, and has big ambitions in India and the Middle East. Its international expansion will not come at the expense of business at home, however – the company was awarded numerous contracts covering both wastewater and integrated water cycle services throughout Spain last year.

Beijing Enterprises Water Group

What is it?
The Hong Kong-listed water services arm of Beijing Enterprises Holdings, involved in water supply and wastewater treatment in mainland China.

What has it done?
If 2008 was a year of acquisitions for BEWG, 2009 was the year it emerged as a serious player in the Chinese water and wastewater market. Its run of contract wins was second to none – the company effectively doubled the treatment capacity within its portfolio, and also made inroads into the international market, paving the way for a landmark wastewater deal with the Malaysian government.

What makes it special?
* In the space of just 12 months, BEWG left the competition standing, signing nearly 20 separate deals to own and operate water and wastewater treatment facilities in China, with a combined design capacity of over 2 million m3/d.
* The company’s successes helped the share price to nearly triple over the course of 2009, outperforming the benchmark Hang Seng stock index by 130%.
* BEWG is committed to getting big – quickly. The signing of a memorandum of understanding for a $2 billion contract to develop 19 wastewater treatment plants in Malaysia amply demonstrates BEWG’s international ambitions, and the company is currently negotiating with Norwegian desalter Aqualyng ahead of an entry into China’s seawater desalination market.

Cascal

What is it?
A NYSE-listed water and wastewater service provider, serving 4.6 million people in seven countries around the world. Biwater holds a 59% stake.

What has it done?
2009 was the year in which equity investors finally bought into the Cascal story. The stock outperformed the major indices to end the year 35% higher than where it started, while the company’s P&L took a turn for the better, as it called in some key payments relating to past activities in Belize and Panama, thus removing a significant management distraction. Cascal also negotiated important rate increases at its UK and Chilean regulated subsidiaries, while furthering its ambitions in the Caribbean.

What makes it special?
* Cascal’s ambitions in the Caribbean desalination market saw it make an audacious proposal to significantly reduce the cost of desalinated water in the British Virgin Islands, while simultaneously reducing non-revenue water. This was followed by the takeover of three Caribbean desalination businesses from Veolia Water in December.
* Cascal successfully steered its UK subsidiary, Bournemouth & West Hampshire Water, through a tough price review, whilst maintaining high operational standards – a fact recognised formally by both the UK government and the economic regulator.
* The company has continued to reduce its exposure to the sterling/dollar exchange rate by diversifying its revenue base away from the UK. This has not come at the expense of profitability – Cascal continues to generate healthy EBITDA margins relative to the rest of its peer-group.

Remondis Aqua

What is it?
The water services arm of German water and waste specialist Remondis, part of the privately held Rethmann Group.

What has it done?
2009 was a breakthrough year for Remondis Aqua: in May, it set itself up to take advantage of the rapidly expanding Indian water market by acquiring a local company with an established municipal and industrial reference base. In August, it became the only non-French company to pre-qualify for the renewal of the SEDIF contract – the biggest water management contract in France – and subsequently broke new ground in December by becoming the first international private operator to win a water PPP in Russia. The company concluded the acquisition of Spanish systems operator OMS-Sacede in January 2010.

What makes it special?
* Remondis Aqua has expanded its international portfolio 10-fold in as many years. From serving one million people at the start of the decade, the company now provides water and wastewater services to 9.6 million customers – 75% of whom are outside Germany.
* The company’s prudent approach is firmly geared towards international growth – but not at any cost. The expansion of its municipal client base is matched by the vast potential to export its industrial wastewater treatment expertise to clients around the world.
* The daring approach of Remondis Aqua’s business development team has seen the company go where no other international water operator has gone before, pre-qualifying for the flagship SEDIF contract in France, and winning the ground-breaking Arzamas concession in Russia.