EUROPE IN BRIEF

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* The city of Magdeburg has signed a wastewater concession passing wastewater services and assets to the partly-privatised city utility Städtische Werke Magdeburg (SWM) for €140 million.

Although ultimate responsibility for wastewater remains with Magdeburg city council, SWM’s subsidiary Abwassergesellschaft Magdeburg will run the wastewater business for the next 30 years, independently setting charges. Post takeover, wastewater remains largely in municipal hands as the city of Magdeburg holds 54% of SWM. A holding company owned by Gelsenwasser and energy giant E.on’s subsidiary Avacon has 29%, while another subsidiary E.on Energie holds 17%. SWM’s 29.8% share in Magdeburg’s drinking water company provides potential for future synergies.

* The Catalan government’s water agency ACA last month approved a nine-year urban wastewater treatment plan which includes a major programme of investment in new infrastructure and the renovation of existing water treatment plants with the objective of ensuring that Catalonia complies with the requirements of the EU’s Water Framework Directive. The plan includes a budget of €876.2 million for investment in 1,784 new infrastructure projects to be carried out in two phases: 2006-2008 and 2009-2014. The agency is also to undertake a major programme of renovation of existing plants for which budget details are not yet available.

* Veolia Water has been awarded the contract for the management of water services in Prostejov by the Prostejov Water Company – the public utility responsible for the area around the Central Moravian city. The contract covers the production and distribution of drinking water, the collection and treatment of wastewater and associated customer services. It will extend over 25 years, serving an estimated 70,000 inhabitants and generating total revenues in excess of €122 million over the period.

* Northumbrian Water Group bought Degrémont out of its Ayrshire private finance initiative wastewater treatment plant. The deal gives Northumbrian 100% of one of the project companies involved and 75% of the other (Amec is the remaining minority shareholder). Northumbrian paid £3.3 million for the Degrémont shares, and will now consolidate £70 million of the project\'s debt on