EBRD boosts stake in Veolia Environnement water venture

By Richard Wallis

The EBRD is investing an extra €70 million through a new share subscription to increase its equity stake in a Veolia Environnement Group vehicle as it seeks to spread its core water business further east to cover a majority of the Bank’s countries of operation.

The Bank’s aim in this project is to finance Veolia Voda SA’s growth plans, including through acquisitions, in at least 18 countries ranging from central Europe to central Asia despite the economic downturn and difficult market conditions.

In 2007, the EBRD acquired a 10 percent equity stake in Veolia Voda for €105 million. The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Veolia Eau-Compagnie Générale des Eaux, was originally set up as a vehicle for the group’s water and wastewater operations in Russia, Ukraine and four countries of central and eastern Europe.

"We are very happy that our partnership has reached this new level. For us, it is a declaration of trust, which we deeply appreciate," said Philippe Guitard, Director of Veolia Water Europe.

Veolia Water is a division of the world’s leading operator of municipal and environmental services, Veolia Environnement (Paris Euronext symbol VIE and NYSE symbol VE).

This transaction gives the EBRD an opportunity to invest alongside this private sector group as it seeks to push its business east at a time when the crisis is opening new possibilities for private sector investment in this important sector, said Jean-Patrick Marquet, the EBRD’s Director for Municipal and Environmental Infrastructure.