According to news published in 'La Información', the process of selling Agbar by Suez has now entered 'a crucial stage', with French investment bank Société Générale in charge. This entity will be responsible for managing the operation at the request of Engie (formerly Gaz de France), the French company and Suez's main reference partner.
Early in October, Suez presented its strategic plan, where the company announced its intention to increase the group's earnings with cost cuts of 1 billion euros per year by 2023, something which has already been given the green light by Emmanuel Macron. To achieve this objective, investment fund Amber Capital, who owns a 1.9% stake in Suez, recommended the French company review its portfolio and dispose of Agbar: 'due to its stage of maturity and its concession model, the natural owners would be financial investors including infrastructure, private equity and pension funds'.
Since it will be up for sale, CriteriaCaixa is now hoping to recover Agbar again for Catalonia, says journalist José Antonio Nava. We may recall that La Caixa used to own Agbar until it was transferred to Suez, a process initiated over a decade ago.
Moreover, according to La Información, Agbar's worth is subject to several ongoing legal proceedings involving the company and which could alter the final price, thus favouring the entity chaired by Isidro Fainé. In this regard, the court proceedings related to the creation of the public-private company that manages water in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area are expected to end on October 30th, when we will know the ruling of the Supreme Court, something which 'could be the starting point towards the remunicipalisation of services in close to 25 communities in the metropolitan area' and 'would mean an important reduction in the value of Agbar'. It is not the only pending process: there is another one in Peru, where the company manages the comprehensive services for Sedapal's commercial activities.
Agbar's sale transaction, estimated by the French in 3 billion euros, could also involve international investment funds, which would guarantee the continuity of the current management team.