Australian Bank takeover of Southern Water: more environmental vandalism on the way?

We are concerned that the Australian independent investment bank, Macquarie, has been granted permission to take a £1bn stake in the failed water company Southern Water.  It is a retrograde step by OFWAT to allow this investment to proceed, given the previous track record of Macquarie when they held a stake in Thames Water.  It shows a cavalier disregard for the need for water companies to take their environmental responsibilities and duties seriously and comes after Southern Water was given a record £90m fine for deliberately dumping raw sewage into some of our most protected rivers and coastal environments.

Macquarie’s ownership of Thames Water marked a low point for England’s biggest water company.  The company was saddled with debts of over £10.6bn while its investors, including Macquarie took over £1.6bn out of the business in dividend payments.  All the while the company paid just £100,000 in corporation tax.  Meanwhile, during its ownership of Thames Water they were handed down the previous biggest fine for a water company, £20m for pouring 1.9bn litres of raw sewage into the Thames between 2013 and 2014.

Stuart Singleton-White, Head of Campaigns at the Angling Trust, said, “Southern Water is in trouble.  It is the worst performing water company in England.  Its environmental performance is one of shameful negligence and criminal behaviour.  But for Ofwat to sanction this investment from Macquarie, given their previous track record at Thames, where they showed their only concern was to take money out of the business instead of sewage out of our rivers, simply shows that OFWAT care little for our water environment.”

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