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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 2019.

Shortlisted Nominees

 

Culligan

What is it?

A private equity-owned water filtration, softening and disinfection specialist, active globally in the residential, office, commercial, and industrial water treatment markets.

What has it done?

Culligan positioned itself at the cutting edge of the global point-of-use water treatment market by maintaining a razor-sharp focus on maximising the customer experience. In targeting above-market growth through a dedicated commitment to organic and acquisitive growth, it has fully embraced digital sales channels without compromising its established dealer network.

What makes it special?

Culligan is one of the most seasoned players in the water M&A game, bolting on local dealerships and advanced tech companies alike, with a rhythm and a discipline that few can match. The result: a dealer network that is second to none, and a broad portfolio of complementary products wrapped up in a first-class service offering. Its biggest deal yet – the $1.1 billion acquisition of AquaVenture, negotiated in 2019 – is a true game-changer, taking it deeper into the rapidly growing bottleless water cooler segment.

By intelligently capturing the market zeitgeist and building a commercial offering around it, Culligan has become the go-to provider of products and services which deliver the best possible point-of-use experience for the customer – wherever they are.

 

Its traditional filtration and softening solutions are complemented by the ability to deliver chilled, boiling and sparking water from a single stylish tap – thus helping to reduce single-use plastics.

Culligan invested heavily in digital technology in 2019 as part of a drive to enhance its service offering by linking water quality data, consumption trends, and filter replacement schedules on a single platform. It is hard evidence that the Culligan Man has grasped an increasingly connected future with both hands.

 

Essential Utilities, Inc.

What is it?

A NYSE-listed investor-owned water and wastewater utility serving 3 million people within a multi-state envelope across the United States. Formerly known as Aqua America.

What has it done?

The company positioned itself at the forefront of its peer group in terms of geographical exposure, forward-thinking regulatory engagement, and profitable growth. Its bold diversification into the natural gas distribution market will take it into a new dimension.

What makes it special?

A series of calculated growth initiatives and prudent portfolio management have enabled Essential Utilities to establish itself as the most favourably positioned US investor-owned water utility from a regulatory standpoint. An unswerving willingness to engage proactively with state public utility commissions on regulatory matters has seen it lead the pack in terms of improving service for millions of US ratepayers.

After scouting around for transformative growth opportunities in water, the management team at the former Aqua America made the groundbreaking decision to diversify into natural gas through the $4.3 billion acquisition of Peoples Gas.

 

Their disarmingly simple argument to mollify the purists was that digging up a road to put in a water pipe is exactly the same as digging up a road to put in a gas pipe.

Despite a dilutive share issue in April 2019, Essential’s share price rose by more than a third over the course of last year as the company delivered time and again on its growth objectives. Its focus on proactively creating opportunities which benefit not just its own book, but the whole industry, has propelled it to stand head and shoulders above its peers. A true pioneer.

 

H2O Innovation

What is it?

A TSX-listed provider of water treatment systems, specialty products, and O&M services.

What has it done?

2019 was little short of an annus mirabilis for H2O Innovation. The company recorded record revenues, completed its biggest ever acquisition, and commissioned its largest membrane bioreactor plant to date, all while doubling down on bringing its unique value proposition to bear for an increasingly global customer base.

What makes it special?

H2O Innovation’s tailored M&A strategy reached new highs in 2019 with the acquisition of Genesys – its largest deal to date. The transaction means that H2O now boasts one of the biggest distribution networks for specialty chemicals in the world, marking a turning point in the group’s ability to deliver a broad array of membrane chemical solutions.

2019 was the year that H2O’s rapidly growing Piedmont couplings and filter housings business really showed the global desalination market what it is capable of.

 

The highlight on a long list of contract wins was the deal to supply filter housings to the 900,000m3/d facility at Taweelah in the UAE – set to be the largest membrane desalination plant in the world.

The genius of H2O Innovation’s dynamic leadership team has been to encourage the three pillars of the business to work in harmony to deliver a uniquely tailored value proposition. No company, large or small, did more last year to earn the respect of its competitors and its clients.

 

Kurita Water Industries

What is it?

A $2.5 billion-a-year Tokyo-listed supplier of water treatment chemicals and treatment systems.

What has it done?

Kurita celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2019 by showing the world that it has never been more serious about going global. Its structured acquisitions programme gained momentum with the purchase of U.S. Water Services and Avista Chemicals, it appointed a local company veteran as its new CEO in Europe, and even delivered a water recycling system for testing on the International Space Station.

What makes it special?

Many Asia-domiciled water companies have made bold claims about conquering the global market. Kurita has made it a reality. Last year, it consolidated its growing footprint in the US by buying industrial treatment solutions provider U.S. Water Services, and broadened its offering in reverse osmosis chemicals by snapping up Avista Technologies, taking it further into Europe and the Middle East.

Kurita underscored its commitment to the digital water market in 2019 by leading an $11 million funding round in US-based intelligent water management specialist Apana, while U.S. Water launched the Lumyn digital platform for proactive water system management.

 

Its internal product development engine was also functioning at full throttle, as Kurita Japan rolled out its Dropwise condensation technology, which improves heat transfer efficiency in heat exchangers.

As a supplier of bespoke treatment systems, Kurita has set its sights far beyond mere land-based applications, supplying a water recycling demonstration system to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in 2019, for use on the International Space Station. It uses ion exchange, electrolysis and electrodialysis to turn astronauts’ urine into potable water, weighs 75% less than conventional systems, and uses half the power. One giant leap towards the future of manned space flight.

 

The Global Water Awards 2020 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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