Berlin water privitisation delayed

Originally due on March 25, a decision on the sale of a 49.9% stake in Berlin's water and sewerage company, Berliner Wasser Betriebe (BWB), is not now expected until the end of April due to in-fighting in the Berlin state parliament.

The Berlin Senate’s final choice has been made a little easier by the withdrawal of several of the original contenders. The UK’s Severn Trent Water has pulled out because it cannot find a local partner. Bewag, the Berlin gas utility has also withdrawn and German industrial group, Thyssen has abandoned its French partner, Lyonnaise des Eaux.

A spokesman for Thyssen told World Water that prospects for profitability in Berlin did not match expectations and that water supply was not among the company’s priority objectives. However, Thyssen will retain its jv with Lyonnaise des Eaux – Eurawasser – which manages water and wastewater contracts in the east German cities of Potsdam and Rostock.

Lyonnaise, which has meanwhile made its final offer to the Berlin Senate to acquire 49.9% of the BWB, has said it will find other partners. The French group will be in competition with three other bidders: Vivendi/RWE, Azurix (Enron’s water subsidiary) and Preussen Elektra, a part concern of the German Veba group.

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