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Water Deal of the Year

For the deal, signed in 2015, which has made the biggest contribution to the advancement of private sector participation in the international water sector.

Changi NEWater II

What is it?

An S$180 million ($141 million) financing package to fund a 25-year design-build-own-operate project in Singapore. The resulting plant will polish secondary treated municipal wastewater from the Changi Water Reclamation Plant to create 228,000m³/d of potable quality NEWater.

Who is responsible?

Chinese state-owned developer Beijing Enterprises Water Group (BEWG) and Singapore’s United Engineers Ltd (UEL) teamed up to deliver the winning bid for Singaporean national water company Public Utilities Board (PUB). KPMG was the transaction advisor on the financing package, while Wong Partnership and Beca served as legal and contractual advisors, respectively.

What makes it special?

Chosen as preferred bidder in September 2014, the BEWG-UEL consortium worked at phenomenal speed to finalise the contract and pull together a financing package by January 2015 – running to a tight schedule that will see first water produced in December 2016. Opting to raise 90% of the funding through shareholder loans rather than the more expensive commercial debt market enabled the bidders to deliver a first-year tariff of just S$0.28/m³ (US$0.20/m³).

Having clinched the contract at a low tariff, optimising operational costs was always going to be of paramount concern. Pitting local electricity retailers against each other in a competitive tender resulted in a fixed power tariff for the first five years of the contract, providing a vital buffer against price fluctuations.


As the first water PPP in Singapore to be led by a foreign company, Changi NEWater II is testament to the rise of China as a global power in the water industry. The enthusiastic reception for BEWG’s $251 million syndicated loan in 2015 means that the project company now has a web of international finance partners at its fingertips. This will prove vital when it comes to refinancing the project’s debt at more attractive margins once the construction risk has been eliminated.


Al Hamra SWRO financing, UAE

What is it?

A $196 million funding package signed to back the construction of a 22MIGD (100,000m³/d) solar-powered SWRO plant under a build-own-operate contract in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. The water is purchased by Utico Services, which serves around 650 individual and bulk consumers, including local utility FEWA.

Who is responsible?

The project will be developed by Al Hamra Water Company, a joint venture between Utico (60%) and Cobra (40%). EPC work on the plant will be carried out by Cobra subsidiary Tedagua. KPMG/GU Advisory DMCC (financial), Latham & Watkins (legal) and Mott MacDonald/Uticonsult (technical) advised on the deal. The project was funded according to a 70:30 debt-to-equity split, with debt financing arranged by United Ventures and Investments in Dubai.

What makes it special?

As the world’s first ‘private IWP’ – where a private party takes the role of both developer and offtaker – the project marks a major evolution in the way the private water sector interacts with end-users. By allowing the private sector to take a hand in every step of the process – funding, construction, operation, procurement and distribution – Al Hamra has proved that private water can continually lead the way in delivering excellent service.

The project’s unique structure, free from government dictat, allowed it to incorporate a solar power plant, pushing the envelope in the interconnection of energy and water infrastructure.


By dealing directly with customers as well as sourcing its own co-developer and contractor, Utico has realised massive synergies in the bureaucracy of water supply, as well as reducing the burden of payments on cash-strapped utilities and water providers in Ras Al Khaimah.

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