Aqualia\'s €1.5 billion Italian job

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It is the FCC subsidiary’s first major international contract since its divorce from Veolia. There are more to come.

Aqualia, the water subsidiary of Spanish construction giant FCC, has announced that a consortium in which it has the majority shareholding (51% with another 47% held by Italian company Galva) has acquired a 30-year concession to supply water to the city of Caltanissetta in Sicily.

The contract, which was published in the Italian official bulletin at the end of December, is to supply drinking water to the city of 100,000 inhabitants and includes an agreed investment of €247 million in improved infrastructure, of which around a third is to come from public funds. The parties are expected to officially sign the deal shortly.

The concession, valued at €1.5 billion, is the second-largest ever for Aqualia and represents a major step forward in its declared intention of internationalising its presence in the water sector. Aqualia is also on the shortlist of companies competing for contracts worth €1.6 billion in the
Italian cities of Ragusa and Vibo Valentia. According to managing director Fernando Moreno, the company aims to be a “future private sector partner of reference” in Italy.

With a current annual turnover of €570 million, the company has set a target of earning 30% of its turnover outside Spain by 2008. It has contracts worth €500 million in China and is in discussions over the construction of a desalination plant in Tianjin. It recently won several desalination
contracts in Algeria in partnership with Inima and is competing for water supply contracts in Portugal.

The company was also touted last year as a possible buyer for RWE’s water interests, particularly for Pridesa, Thames Water’s Spanish desalination subsidiary. According to Miguel Jurado, head of Aqualia’s international division, if Thames Water’s assets were to be put up for sale again, the company would “be interested in bidding in principle, depending on how the process is articulated”.

In Spain, where it is the second largest private company in the water sector, Aqualia expects to gain business from the spate of contracts due in the next few months for the construction of desalination plants along the Mediterranean coast for the government’s AGUA programme.

Aqualia\'s main contracts in Spain include:

Almería. Integrated water management for more than 170,000 inhabitants.

Ávila. Integrated water management since 1988, supplying a population of nearly 50,000 inhabitants. Contract with the town council signed until 2015, with an investment of €2 million.

Badajoz. Integrated water management, construction, operation & maintenance of the infrastructure.

Jaén. Total service: collection, purification, distribution, treatment and management of the billing process.

Lleida. Integrated water management for more than 130,000 inhabitants.

Oviedo. Integrated water management for a population of more than 210,000 inhabitants.

Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife). Integrated water management. In total, Aqualia supplies a population of over 140,000 inhabitants on the islands.

Salamanca. Supply and drainage to a population of more than 200,000 inhabitants.