Southern Water announces £550mn investment from Macquarie

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UK utility Southern Water has mentioned its greatest backer will make investments £550mn into the enterprise, the most recent firm to hunt extra money as issues develop in regards to the sector’s monetary well being.

The slated fairness injection from Australian investor Macquarie comes the identical day that rankings supplier Fitch downgraded the water utility, citing its excessive curiosity prices and operational challenges.

The announcement is the most recent motion taken by shareholders in UK water corporations, that are struggling beneath a mixed £60bn of debt and coming beneath rising strain from rising inflation.

The monetary energy of 5 corporations — Thames Water, Southern Water, SES Water, Portsmouth Water and Yorkshire Water — is beneath specific scrutiny from regulator Ofwat.

Thames Water, England’s largest water firm, was plunged into chaos final week after its chief govt resigned unexpectedly. An anticipated £1bn of further funding from shareholders has not but materialised.

Yorkshire Water additionally introduced it was elevating £500mn from shareholders to shore up its steadiness sheet.

Southern Water gives providers to 2.6mn prospects throughout Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The corporate, which is owned by Macquarie Asset Administration, acquired £1.1bn in funding in 2021 to assist facilitate £2bn of latest funding in its community.

The enterprise has come beneath rising strain over the previous 18 months because it faces above-inflation will increase in vitality prices whereas additionally needing to make important investments in upgrading its enterprise.

The corporate was fined £90mn in July 2021 for dumping between 16bn litres and 21bn litres of sewage — the equal of seven,400 Olympic-sized swimming swimming pools — between 2010 and 2015.

Southern mentioned web financing prices had elevated by greater than £80mn to £279mn within the 12 months to April 1, partly due to its inflation-linked debt.

Of the promised funding, £375mn will go into Southern Water’s regulated entity and £175mn into its holding corporations, the group mentioned in an announcement.

“Following our £1.1bn fairness injection in 2021, we’re dedicated to making sure Southern Water has the sources it must proceed to enhance its operational and environmental efficiency as a part of its turnround plan,” Macquarie mentioned in an announcement.

Southern Water mentioned it anticipated the fairness elevating to be accomplished by the top of October 2023, with participation from Macquarie and different shareholders.

Nonetheless, as the brand new funding has not been finalised, it has been included as a “materials uncertainty with respect to the Southern Water’s going concern standing”, it mentioned.

Friday’s downgrade by Fitch prompted a so-called set off occasion, which prohibits shareholders paying themselves dividends, in addition to putting restrictions on how a lot debt the corporate can tackle.

The anticipated fairness injection from Macquarie comes six years after the Australian firm bought its ultimate stake in Thames Water to institutional buyers from Canada and Kuwait.

Macquarie was the biggest investor in Thames Water between 2006 and 2017 and was broadly criticised for extracting hundreds of thousands of kilos in dividends because the utility struggled with leakages and air pollution failures.

Macquarie reached a deal to accumulate a majority stake in Southern Water in 2021. On the time the asset supervisor agreed to take a position greater than £1bn in new fairness to recapitalise the enterprise and implement a extra sustainable financing technique.

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