On August 15, the British newspaper The Independent wrote: “Thames Water has become undisputed holder of the title of Britain’s most hated utility — the competition is generally tough, so it took some doing.”
Thames Water is, at least for now, one of nearly 600 subsidiaries of RWE, the German energy and water conglomerate. But RWE is hoping to unload this troublesome British utility, and its U.S. counterpart American Water, by 2007. RWE recently received two bids for Thames Water, one from a group led by British private equity firm Terra Firma, and another from a group headed up by Qatar‚ national investment fund.
What experience do these two firms have in providing people with essential water? The agency that regulates water in Jakarta, Indonesia, is asking that very question. The new owner of Thames will also win a share in Jakarta‚ water system. The Indonesian water authority also wants Thames to settle its $3.78 million debt before the sale, so that the people of Jakarta wont get stuck with the bill.