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May / June 2003

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OPINION - Confusing Cause and Effect


Founder : Len Abrams
Water Policy International

International Water Companies


The Delta

Religious Significance

Economic Significance

Dams and the Farakka Barrage


The Ganges River Dolphin


Prepared by Anton Earle, September 2001



The past decade has seen the growth of a new phenomenon - the international water company.  With the increasing privatisation of water services, either through the outright acquisition of water related infrastructure or through concession contracts, several companies have been engaged in aggressive growth programmes aimed at ensuring increasing global market share and increased shareholder profits derived from the business of providing water services.  This section of The Water Page provides an overview of the current status of international water companies and gives an insight into some of the current debates related to privatisation, regulation, the urban/rural divide and globalisation.

The phenomenon of the international water company is not welcomed by all.  There are those who are very strong and powerful proponents of the involvement of the private sector, who advocate deregulation and the opening of markets, and there are those who regard the phenomenon with grave concerns as opening vast numbers of people to further exploitation.  Different opinions are given expressed in the section.

Facts and figures

Seven sets of information are provided below.  They are provided to give a "snap shot" of the current situation.  All of the information has been derived from official documents (latest Annual Reports etc.), most of which have been accessed via the Internet.  The information is provided in graphic of table form and includes the following:-

The geographical location of where companies are operating around the world
The proportion of water & sanitation services which are privatised and the value of the privatised market
International investment in water and sanitation
The number of people served with water supply and sanitation by different companies
Income, Profit & Size of Major International Water Companies
Turnover of international water operations
Major International Water Companies & Their Foreign Subsidiaries



Private Water Companies - where do they operate?
Companies operating water & sewerage services outside of their home countries


International Water Companies on the Continents

Europe Asia Mid-East & north Africa Latin America North America Australia Sub-Saharan Africa
Thames Water AWG ONDEO ONDEO Vivendi ONDEO Thames Water
ONDEO ONDEO Vivendi American Water Azurix Vivendi Vivendi
Vivendi Vivendi SAUR Vivendi United Water . ONDEO
SAUR . . SAUR Aquarion . .
. . . AWG American Water . .



Proportion of Water & Sanitation Services Privatised

1997 & 2010 projected

Region % Privatised, 1997 % Privatised, 2010 Value of privatised market
(US$, billions)
Western Europe* 20 35 10
Central & east Europe 4 20 4
North America 5 15 9
Latin America 4 60 9
Africa 3 33 3
Asia 1 20 10

* Excluding France and UK
Source: Vivendi (1999)





Who supplies the water
The number of people served - water supply and sanitation (Millions)




Income, Profit & Size of Major International Water Companies
Parent Company Principle wholly owned subsidiaries

(US$ million)

Operating Profit
(US$ million)

Vivendi . 48,430 2,883 290,000
. Vivendi Environment (was Generale des Eaux) 24,645 1,763 215,000
. Water division 11,904 N/A 67,000
SUEZ . 31,620 3,522 173,200
. ONDEO (was Lyonnaise Des Eaux) 8,463 1,953 17,670
RWE . 43,700 2,418 172,000
. Thames Water (includes subsidiaries) 3,998 1,358 23,000
Bouyges . 17,725 1,370 120,000
. SAUR 2,231 108 23,000
AWG . 1,810 450 10,022
. Anglian Water 1,080 439 7000
Kelda . 1,001 335 N/A
. Yorkshire Water 797 315 3000






Major International Water Companies & Their Foreign Subsidiaries  
Only subsidiaries in which company has greater than a 50% share shown (Name followed by country - see country codes below)
Parent Company Vivendi(France) Suez(France) RWE(Germany) Bouyges(France) Kelda(UK)
Water Division Vivendi Environment
Thames Water
Yorkshire Water
US Filter (USA)
American Water (USA)
Aquatech (CAN)
Alcontrol BV (NLD)
Aqua Alliance (USA)
Northumbrian Water (UK)
Azurix (USA)
Dynamco (UK)
Aquarion (USA)
United Water (USA)
Wessex Water (UK)
Emalsa (ESP)
Canadian Clean Water (CAN)
Aguas de Aconquija (ARG)
Aguas de Limeira (BRA)
Bovis Thames (CHN)
Guestagua (ESP)
Henrici Melieulaboratoriu (NLD)
Aguas de Jaen (ESP)
Aguas Decima (CHL)
FB Leopold (USA)
Rossa (RUS)
Alcontrol GmbH (DEU)
Aguas del Sauce (URY)
Aguas Provinciales de Santa Fe (ARG)
Hydro-Aerobics (USA)
Sigesa (ITA)
Folkestone & Dover Water (UK)
Aqua Toscana (ITL)
Kelantan (MYS)
Senegalaise de Eaux (SEN)
Ibersade (ESP)
Aquasystems (SVN)
Sodeci (CIV)
Calgon (USA)
Oewa (DEU)
Essex & Suffolk (UK)
OK Wasser (DEU)
Eurawasser (DEU)
Servitec (HUN)
United Water (AUS)
Lydec (MAR)
Palya (IDN)
Sino-French Water (CHN)
Country Codes
ARG: Argentina
DEU: Germany
ITA: Italy
MYS: Malaysia
UK: United Kingdom
BRA: Brazil
ESP: Spain
ISR: Israel
MAR: Morocco
USA: United States
CAN: Canada
GMB: Gambia
IDN: Indonesia
RUS: Russia
URY: Uruguay
CIV: Ivory Coast
HUN: Hungary
MEX: Mexico
SVN: Slovenia


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