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Private Equity, Public Inequity:

The Public Cost of Private Equity Takeovers of U.S. Water Infrastructure


Fact Sheet August 2012
I
nvestment bankers and other Wall Street players want to take over public water services
to vrng quck prot rom communtes thut ure oten ureudy strupped or cush.
1
By 2012,
nuncu behemoths ncudng }lMorgun Chuse und the Curye Croup munuged nvestment
unds thut ovned vuter und sever systems ucross the Lnted Stutes |see tube on puge 2).
1hs s purt o u urger trend: lrvute equty puyers, urmed vth more thun Sl85 bon,
2
are
uggressvey turgetng nrustructure vordvde.
3

Growing Private Equity Appetite for Water
Snce the md-2000s, vhen the prvute equty cruze or
nrustructure took o,
4
there huve been hu u dozen urge
prvute equty tukeovers n the L.S. vuter sector |see tube
on puge 2). As u resut o these deus, nvestment bunks und
prvute equty rms munuge the compunes thut provde
vuter und sever servces to mons o peope ucross the
country, und ther reuch s grovng. At eust our szeube
deals, including three privatizations, were on the horizon
or 20l2 und 20l3. lrvute equty puyers untcpute thut
ongong scu dcutes v drve muny other ocu gov-
ernments to prvutze ther vuter servces.
5
Pushing Privatization
1he nunce ndustry s promotng vuter prvutzuton us
u vuy to hep ocu governments puy or budget shortus
und mprovement proects. 1hey udvse ocu ocus to
enter nto urge, compex deus thut trunser contro o pub-
c servces to nuncers n exchunge or un upront puy-
ment.
6
ln essence, these upront puyments ure hgh-nterest
loans that residents and businesses must repay through
ther vuter bs. lt s tuxng through the tup und u costy
und necent vuy to ruse cuptu.
7

Key Problems With
Private Equity Takeovers
Squeezing Dry: lrvute equty puyers seek hgh prots. ln-
rustructure unds generuy huve turgeted returns o ut eust
l2 to l5 percent u yeur,
8
und they oten muke even more
money vhen they rese ussets to other nvestors. ln the
Lnted lngdom, or exumpe, prvute equty nvestors typ-
cuy mude unnuuzed returns o l5 to 30 percent vhen
they sod ther stukes n prvutzuton proects.
9
Driving Up Public Costs: lrvute equty puyers use u vu-
rety o tuctcs to meet ther prot gous. ln prvutzuton
deals, they may use sneaky contract provisions and con-
truct renegotutons to sht rsks und costs to the pubc.
10

\hen they ovn vuter uttes, they coud overbud nru-
structure projects or buy other systems to drive up water
prces und nute ther eurnngs.
11

Excessive Borrowing: lrvute equty puyers usuuy borrov
u ot o money to puy or u deu. 1hs pructce, knovn us
everugng, ncreuses u rm's protubty und reduces ts
COMMON
RESOURCES
ncome tux responsbty.
12
Loans and other debt typically
cover 60 to 90 percent o u prvute equty tukeover.
13
Such
hghy everuged deus ure rsky und costy. 1he nterest
rute on bonds und other ouns usuuy ncreuses, und the
company goes bankrupt, governments may have to step in
und bu out the vuter utty.
14
Avoiding Taxes: lrvute equty puyers ure notorous n-
come tux uvoders und evuders.
l5
For example, in the last
ve yeurs, the Curye Croup mude more thun S4 bon n
prot but pud un eectve ncome tux rute o ony 2 per-
cent.
16
Cutting and Running: lrvute equty puyers usuuy p
ussets vthn u decude, und they oten se ther stuke n u
prvutzuton deu beore the contruct ends.
17
Hghstur Cup-
tu decded to se Lttes, lnc., u L.S. vuter compuny,
ess thun sx yeurs uter ucqurng t,
l8
und n 20ll, the Cur-
ye Croup's nrustructure und took over lurk \uter Com-
puny vth the ntenton o reseng t vthn ve yeurs.
19
Hiding Behind Closed Doors: lrvute equty tukeovers re-
strct trunspurency und uccountubty. 1hey usuuy huve
inordinately complex ownership structures that can involve
u seres o hodng compunes or specu corporute enttes.
1hs mukes t dcut to dscern vho s utmutey mukng
the bg decsons.
20
lrvutey hed busnesses uso do not
huve to compy vth muny ederu nuncu dscosure re-
quirements, and private contractors are not subject to state
sunshine laws requiring open meetings and public access
to certun normuton ubout pubc servces.
21
Conclusion
lrvute equty tukeovers o vuter ure un uurmng deveop-
ment. 1hese nuncu puyers ocus on short-term prots
und muy seek to p ussets uter drvng dovn servce quu-
ty und drvng up prces. Househods und ocu busnesses
coud end up puyng much more vhe servces deterorute.
Cven these rsks und costs, governments shoud not uuc-
ton o contro o ther vuter und sever servces to bunkers
Ten Major Private Equity Takeovers of U.S. Water and Sewer Services
YEAR PRIVATE EQUITY PLAYER VALUE TARGET
2006
AIG Highstar Capital II, LP
(via Hydro Star, LLC)
$192.5 million
(purchase price)
Utilities Inc., a private water company
serving more than 300,000 water and
sewer customers in 17 states
25
2006
BC Investment Management Corp. and
CAI Capital Management
(via 0745848 B.C. Ltd.)
$111 million (purchase
price)
Terasen Water and Utility Services
including 50% of Fairbanks Sewer & Water,
Inc., a private water company serving
Fairbanks, Alaska
26
2007
Macquarie Bank
(via Macquarie Utilities, Inc.)
$578 million (purchase
price)
Aquarion Water Company, a private water
company serving about 200,000 customers
in Conn., Mass. and N.H.
27
2008
Alinda Capital Partners with
PERC Water Corp.
(via Santa Paula Water, LLC)
$62 million (est.
capital investment)
Santa Paula, Calif., water recycling facility,
privatization through a 30-year design-
EXLOGRSHUDWHQDQFHFRQWUDFW
28
2010
JPMorgan Investment Management
and Water Asset Management
investment funds
(via SW Merger Acquisition Corp.)
$275 million
(purchase price)
Southwest Water Company, a publicly
traded water company serving more than
a million people in nine states
29
2011
Carlyle Infrastructure Partners
(via Western Water Holdings)
$102 million
(purchase price)
Park Water Company, a privately held
water company serving more than 225,000
people in Mont. and Calif.
30
Pending*
Table Rock Capital
(via Rialto Water Services)
$170 million
(capital investment)
Rialto, Calif., water and sewer systems,
privatization through a 30-year
concession
31
Pending*
BC Investment Management Corp. and
CAI Capital Management
(via Corix)
Undisclosed
Utilities, Inc., a private water company
serving more than 290,000 customers
in 15 states
32
Pending*
KKR with United Water
(via Bayonne Water Joint Venture, LLC)
$150 million
(upfront payment)
Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, N.J.,
water and sewer systems, privatization
through a 40-year concession
33
Pending*
BC Investment Management Corp. and
CAI Capital Management
(via Corix)
$20 million (est.
transaction value)
Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas, 18
to 20 water and sewer systems, privatiza-
tion through a sale
34
* Pending as of August 2012
or other prvute nuncu nterests. lt s un rresponsbe und
scuy unsound vuy to meet budgetury needs.
Better Solutions
Public-Public Partnerships: Cush-strupped communtes
can instead explore public-public partnerships to reduce
the cost und enhunce the perormunce o ther pubc vu-
ter und sever servces. 1vo or more pubc sector vuter
uttes cun on orces on u not-or-prot buss und ever-
uge ther shured cupuctes. 1he pubc sector purtners
pool resources, buying power and technical expertise to
mprove servce und reduce costs.
22
Compured to pubc-
private partnerships, these public sector partnerships are
more ecent, eectve und equtube.
23
Public Funding: 1he ederu government cun support pub-
c sector uttes by provdng u dedcuted source o und-
ng or the Drnkng \uter und Ceun \uter Stute Revov-
ng lunds und by reuuthorzng the ud Amercu onds
progrum. ud Amercu onds ure un ecent vuy to
lower local government borrowing costs and to appeal to a
brouder runge o nvestors, ncudng penson unds.
24
A reneved ederu commtment und responsbe pubc
munugement o our nuton's vuter und sever systems ure
the best vuys to ensure sue und uordube vuter servce
or u.
ENDNOTES
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26 0745848 .C. Ltd. Appcuton or Authorzuton to Acqure un lnd-
rect lty lercent lnterest ln lurbunks Sever & \uter, lnc. Reguutory
Commsson o Ausku. |Docket No. L-06-009). lebruury l, 2006 ut
l to 3, lnder Morgun ses vuter unt or SlllM. The Associated
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27 Aquuron. lress Reeuse. Mucquure unk to Acqure Aquuron
\uter Compuny. lebruury 24, 2006, Dscepoo, Lndu. Aquuron
\uter Compuny o Connectcut. }ont Appcuton o ledu Croup
lnc. und Mucquure Lttes lnc. or Approvu o u Chunge o Contro
Response to Crder No. l. Connectcut Depurtment o lubc Lt-
ty Contro. |Docket 06-06-l8). }une l, 2007 ut 4, Mucquure. lress
Reeuse. Mucquure unk-ed consortum to ucqure LS vuter ut-
ty, Aquuron Compuny. lebruury 24, 2006, Mucquure Lttes lnc.
Amendment No. l to Stock lurchuse Agreement. lebruury 8, 2007
ut l, Nev York lubc Servce Commsson. Crder Approvng Corpo-
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0760). Apr l9, 2007 ut 2 to 3.
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29 Cuornu lubc Lttes Commsson. Decson Adoptng Sette-
ment und Approvng 1runser o lndrect Contro lursuunt to lubc
Lttes Code Secton 854. |Decson l0-09-0l2, Appcuton l0-
04-009). September 2, 20l0 ut 2 to 4, South\est \uter Compuny.
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30 lubc Servce Commsson o the Stute o Montunu. luct Sheet.
Docket D20ll.l.8, Mountun \uter/Curye Appcuton or Approvu
o Sue und 1runser o Stock n lurk \uter Co. September l9, 20ll
ut l to 3, 1he Curye Croup. lress Reeuse. lurk \uter Compuny
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20ll.
31 Stee, Robb R. et u. Cty o Ruto |Cuornu). Memorundum. Agen-
du Report or the Cty Counc/RLA Meetng o Murch 27, 20l2.
Murch 22, 20l2 ut l, 2, 9 und l4, Stenberg, }m. Nev uunce muy
run Ruto's vuter system. San Bernardino County Sun. }uy ll, 20l2.
32 Corx, lebruury 20, 20l2.
33 Rogozu, Ruu. uyonne MLA commssoners breed on proposed
Lnted \uter deu, unnuu rute hkes uter ntu hke und 4-yeur
reeze. The Jersey Journal. }uy 25, 20l2, \uter Cptmsm. Public
Works Financing, vo. 269. Murch 20l2 ut 3.
34 Corx. lress Reeuse. Corx lnrustructure, lnc. to enter nto excu-
sve negotutons vth LCRA to ucqure remunng l8 vuter und vuste-
vuter systems. November ll, 20ll, Corx. lress Reeuse. LCRA
und Corx come to ugreements on 20 vuter systems. Apr 5, 20l2,
Lover Coorudo Rver Authorty. lress Reeuse. Corx to tuke over
vuter und vustevuter utty operutons. }une 26, 20l2, RRLLl lnru-
structure, 20l2 ut ll.
For more information:
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email: novvutch.org
phone: |202) 683-2500 |DC) - |4l5) 293-9900 |CA)
Copyright August 2012 Food & Water Watch