The World's Top 50 Private Water Operators

The World's Top 50 Private Water Operators

The world’s top 50 private water operators GWI’s survey of the number of people served by large private water operators offers a number of clues as to how the market is evolving.

A growing emphasis on industrial water and digital solutions means that it is not always about who serves the most people. More people than ever before receive water and wastewater services from private sector entities, according to new data compiled by Global Water Intelligence this month, with the fifty largest companies alone serving a cumulative total of well over 1.1 billion people.

The top four spots are unchanged since our last survey in November 2017, while Wabag’s rapid growth in its home market means the Indian company rises to sixth place. Acciona and Aqualia, meanwhile, both secure places in the coveted top ten. In terms of absolute numbers, the loss of the ATLL contract in Barcelona effectively cancelled out the gains that Acciona made elsewhere last year, and if Suez bows to shareholder pressure and sells Agbar Spain (see Need to Know p4), it also risks around 5 million being wiped from its tally.

One of the principal challenges of a data collection exercise like this is that everyone wants to shoe-horn in as many references as possible, irrespective of whether plants were built on an EPC-only basis, whether they are on- or offline, whether contracts have expired, or – as was the case with one company – whether a single irrigation contract serving 39 million people was eligible for inclusion (we decided it wasn’t).

By sorting through hundreds of references, we have done our best to eliminate double-counting, although that caveat only applies at the company level. By way of example, a Suez/Broadspectrum team currently operates metropolitan Adelaide’s water and wastewater infrastructure, but the scope of the contract excludes the city’s desalination plant, which is operated by Acciona. Both contracts serve the same city residents, but to be fair to both companies, the respective totals have been included in both Suez’s and Acciona’s tallies. Similarly, Veolia’s big wastewater win in Bordeaux last year adds more than a million people to its total, but there is no discount for former incumbent Suez, which retains the drinking water contract in the city. Although Veolia and Suez provide separate totals for the number of people they serve in water (Veolia: 100m; Suez: 101.8m) and wastewater (Veolia: 61m; Suez: 66.3m), neither company was able to provide a consolidated total. We have therefore had to estimate both numbers, taking into account contract wins and losses as well as acquisitions and disposals, while making educated guesses as to how many people receive both water and wastewater service from the same company.

At just under nine people, the highest average household size in the world is in Senegal, which bumps up the number of people served by pan-African utilities specialist Eranove quite nicely. With the Senegalese authorities deciding to switch their allegiance to Suez from the beginning of next year, however, Eranove is going to have to do some serious deal-making to retain its place in the top 50.

Interestingly, none of the top ten players is ideally positioned to benefit from the potential opening up of the Brazilian water concessions market in the wake of key legislation due to be passed later this year. Instead, Sabesp – the only top ten player with meaningful exposure in the country – will face greater competition from private sector players, while Acciona only has the merest of toeholds.

With Suez under pressure to step up its asset rotation strategy, large O&M contracts in Adelaide and Perth both up for grabs over the next 18 months or so, the Chinese leaning increasingly towards rural contracts, and European companies such as Aqualia and Saur buying established players to enter new markets, the picture could look very different when the time comes to do the next survey.

See Report attached SOURCE