Belfast Telegraph

Macquarie sells last remaining stake in Thames Water

The last remaining stake held in Thames Water by Australian group Macquarie has been sold, ending more than a decade of its investment in Britain's biggest water company.

Macquarie has offloaded its 26% shareholding in Thames Water to the Canadian pension fund investor Borealis Infrastructure and the infrastructure investing arm of the Kuwait Investment Authority.

It brings to an end Macquarie's share ownership in Thames Water, which supplies around 2.6 billion litres of drinking water a day and has some 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

The stake was sold for an undisclosed sum, but Macquarie had reportedly been looking for between £1 billion and £1.5 billion for the holding.

Macquarie bought Thames Water as part of a consortium from German utility RWE in December 2006 for £8 billion, outbidding rivals including the Qatar Investment Authority.

Macquarie began selling down its stake in Thames Water at the end of 2011.

The deal signals the latest interest among overseas investors for UK infrastructure.

Macquarie recently led a consortium of investors including Chinese and Qatari buyers to snap up a 61% stake in Britain's £13.8 billion gas pipe network from National Grid.

Martin Stanley, global head of Macquarie's infrastructure and real assets division, said: "We feel privileged to have been associated with Thames Water for such a long period of time and are pleased to have significantly increased investment levels and improved operational performance.

"Today, Thames Water is undoubtedly a better, stronger and more customer-focused business than that which we invested in back in 2006."

Macquarie said the stake sale came after its investment fund had exceeded its typical 10-year life cycle.

Around £11 billion has been invested in Thames Water under Macquarie's ownership, but the debt on the utility's balance sheet has also ballooned to around £10 billion.

Thames Water has also had a chequered customer service track record in recent years, having been fined twice in the year to the end of March 2016.

It was also hit with a £1 million penalty in January for repeated sewage pollution in the Grand Union canal in Hertfordshire.