Suez, CDPQ strike €3.2bn deal for GE Water

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The deals continue to flow from the staid world of water utilities.

French waste and water group Suez and Canadian pension fund manager Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec on Wednesday struck a deal to buy General Electric’s water division for an enterprise value of €3.2bn ($3.4bn).

The all cash deal for GE Water, which provides waste water management for industrial clients, comes as Suez looks to ramp up its presence outside of Europe, particularly in the US and emerging markets.

“GE Water is very well positioned in the €95bn global industrial water market, growing at an expected 5 per cent per annum,” said Suez and CDPQ in a joint statement. “GE portfolio is diversified and well balanced in terms of geographies (50 per cent of the revenues in North America and 50 per cent in the rest of the world).”

Under the terms of the transaction, Suez will acquire GE Water in a 70/30 joint venture with CDPQ. The French group said it had a fully underwritten bridge financing in place for the transaction, and is considering refinancing it through a capital increase of about €750m.

The deal for GE Water is the latest in a string of consolidations in the water and wastewater utilities industry. The sector is highly fragmented with smaller players often lacking the capital or technical expertise to make the infrastructure upgrades needed to meet growing conservation and environmental concerns.

American Water Works, whose $13.4bn market cap makes it US’s largest publicly traded water and wastewater utility, made a number of acquisitions last year and said last month that it was on the lookout for more.

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