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Water Company of the Year: Shortlist

For the water company that made the most significant contribution to the development of the international water sector in 2018.

Shortlisted Nominees

 

Aquaventure

What is it?

A NYSE-listed water purification specialist with desalination, wastewater treatment, and point-of-use interests.

What has it done?

When AquaVenture Holdings merged with Quench in 2014, few saw the logic behind blending a desalination plant developer with a water cooler business. 2018 forced the skeptics to eat their words, as the group went from strength to strength, diversifying into wastewater and spreading its wings internationally. The shares ended the year up more than 20%.

What makes it special?

The $130 million acquisition of modular wastewater treatment company AUC Group in November 2018 catapulted AquaVenture into the wastewater sector, providing a natural extension of its capital leasing and build-own-operate (BOO) business model beyond seawater desalination and point-of-use.

2018 was the year when AquaVenture showed the world the true nature of its international ambitions. An audacious bid to take over a privately owned desalination plant in Ghana not only showed outgoing CEO Doug Brown’s canny deal-making at its best – it will also create a springboard for expansion in the Middle East and Africa.

 

AquaVenture’s unique approach to the market goes to the very heart of what third-party water provision is all about. Its “Water-as-a-Service” model applies across the board, whether delivering water from desalination plants or supplying rental services for water coolers. The company has carved out a unique niche for itself which no other organisation can match.

 

Jacobs Engineering

What is it?

The $15 billion-a-year NYSE-listed professional services group which absorbed CH2M Hill in December 2017.

What has it done?

The addition of CH2M Hill to the Jacobs stable transformed the fortunes of the company, turning it into the world’s largest water design firm. The scale and breadth of the combined offering means it is uniquely positioned to meet its clients’ needs, whether it is providing programme management services to the most sophisticated utilities, or helping struggling municipalities operate vital infrastructure in a sustainable way.

What makes it special?

Jacobs’ reach in the water sector is predicated on its unique ability to bring a procurement-agnostic approach to any client pitch. Last year, it oversaw the tendering for the world’s largest MBR water recycling plant in Singapore, while securing the role of engineering design manager for the California WaterFix project. It also retained its slot at the top of the trenchless engineering leaderboard, while signing a host of new utility operations contracts across North America.

These days, no design engineer worth his salt can claim to be a global leader without a digital feather in his cap. The completion of the world’s first digital plant replica (of the Changi Water Reclamation Plant in Singapore) by Jacobs’ in-house team last year paves the way for a new era of unprecedented asset optimisation.

 

Jacobs’ successes in the green infrastructure space underscore a fundamental part of the company’s DNA. Its work on a combined sewer overflow project earned it the first platinum Envision designation in Washington state, while it reduced carbon emissions for its clients by 37 million tons last year, proving that big business can have big impacts far beyond the bottom line.

 

Suez

What is it?

The €16 billion-a-year water and waste services group with a diversified global client base across municipal and industrial markets.

What has it done?

Suez’s profit warning at the start of 2018 was the best thing that could have happened to the company. It forced it to dig deep, pre-empting a radical management reshuffle and an inspired capital recycling strategy in the US, allowing the company to refocus its attention on leveraging its position at the forefront of the global resource revolution.

What makes it special?

The true genius of Suez’s $3 billion acquisition of GE Water began to play out in 2018 as cross-selling synergies started to take root. The group’s digital offering took a further leap forward with the acquisition of design optimisation specialist Optimatics, enabling its clients to save billions of dollars before a single spade hits the ground.

In 2018, Suez successfully unlocked the value of its North American operations by agreeing to sell 20% of the regulated business for $600 million, freeing up cash to trim the group’s debt pile and embark on a renewed phase of regulated asset growth.

 

Complementing its presence in developed markets, Suez’s powerful global footprint was bolstered by new contracts serving 6 million people in India and Bangladesh last year, alongside a deal to supply 92,000m3/d of urgently-needed modular potable water systems to the Ivory Coast. The group also stepped up its environmental stewardship role, making a water recycling plant in Australia carbon-positive. No other company has the same dedication to providing best-in-class, holistic solutions to customers across the globe.

 

Water.org

What is it?

The platform set up by Gary White and Matt Damon in 2009 to make affordable finance available so that the poor can gain access to safe water and sanitation.

What has it done?

In 2018, Water.org reached a cumulative total of $1 billion of capital mobilised, as the hard work of its founders in establishing the micro-finance lending model finally paid off, enabling an unprecedented scale-up in activity.

What makes it special?

When Water.org started out, the overwhelming perception was that lending money to the poor to pay for water services was not a bankable proposition.

 

By building an evidence base and achieving a 99% loan repayment rate, Water.org has convinced more and more micro-finance institutions that those at the bottom of the pyramid are willing and able to pay for water, resulting in a snowballing in the volume of capital mobilised.

Every dollar provided by Water.org’s supporters translates into $42 of investment on the ground. This has enabled 14 million people to gain access to safe water and sanitation, and as they carve out a brighter future for their families, many are returning to the programme with an established credit history.

 

The scale-up achieved in 2018 sets the scene for a quadrupling of the number of people impacted by the scheme over the next four years.

Water.org’s momentum is matched only by the scale of its founders’ ambitions. In order to make the quantum leap to the next stage of development, the organisation last year embarked on a mission to attract $100 million of pledged capital for a new credit enhancement facility, while reaching first close on a $50 million investment fund.

 

The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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