Carlos Cosin, CEO of Almar Water Solutions, said in the cover interview of the second issue of Smart Water Magazine: "COVID-19 will boost company mergers and acquisitions a lot more than before".
As of mid-September, we can say that his words have proved to be prophetic. Two major operations have attracted the attention of our industry in recent weeks. On the one hand, Antin Infrastructure Partners announced the signing of an agreement to acquire a majority stake in Miya Group. The deal will cost the company around €700 million, more than double what Bridgepoint paid Arison Group less than two years ago. Antin will work with Miya's management team to support growth opportunities in water concessions and PPPs in Europe and North America, as well as the delivery of further water efficiency projects around the world. In the words of Amit Horman, Chief Executive Officer at Miya: "In partnership with Antin, we look forward to delivering on the significant potential we see over the coming years”.
The appetite of the investment funds has been shown in this operation with the interest of firms such as EQT, IFM, BlackRock, KKR, Brookfield or I-Squared, which according to various sources submitted bids in Miya's auction.
My point of view is that the exceptional situation we are living is going to lead to a complete restructuring of the water industry
This is good news for these times of health and economic uncertainty. My point of view is that the exceptional situation we are living is going to lead to a complete restructuring of the water industry. And much of that game is being played in Paris.
Last Sunday, August 30th, we were all shocked to hear that Veolia was offering Engie 2.9 billion euros ($3.5 billion) for its 29.9% stake in Suez. On the same day, a frenetic race began which will end next September 30th, the day on which Veolia's offer expires. After its initial disbelief, the Suez Board has reacted strongly against the transaction proposed by Veolia and, to date, seems to be trying to articulate an alternative with French private equity such as Ardian and Antin itself. In order for it to go ahead, Bertrand Camus and his team will also have to convince the French government, an important shareholder of Engie, which through the mouth of its Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has shown its concern about the confrontation: "Let's not offer to the rest of the world the spectacle of a battle between two beautiful French industrial companies”.
The feature article signed by our content manager Olivia Tempest in this issue is a must-read to understand all the implications of an unprecedented battle. We will remain vigilant to its resolution.