In 1989, the government sold off our ten public water companies. Since privatisation, your water bill has increased by 40% in real terms. 

Our water and sewerage is now run by nine regional private monopolies which are mostly owned by investors as far afield as Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Hong Kong, and for foreign governments, including Canada, China, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. It seems public ownership of water companies is acceptable, as long as it isn't the British public.

Read more about the water industry and how to bring it into public ownership again here.

Anglian Water is owned by a consortium of international investment funds. These include Colonial First State Global Asset Management (Australia) IFM Investors (Australia) and 3i (UK). Over 30% of the company is owned by the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, a pension fund owned by the Canadian state.

Anglian Water provide water and water recycling services to six million customers in the East of England and Hartlepool. It has been described by the Environment Agency as a 'repeat offender' when it comes to water pollution.

Northumbrian Water is part of Northumbrian Water Group, which is ultimately owned by the Cayman Islands-registered Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited. CK Hutchison has investments in a wide range of sectors including telecoms, ports, water and energy companies. It is publicly traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Northumbrian Water supplies nearly 3 million people with water and sewerage in North East England

The ultimate owners of South East Water are the Utilities Trust of Australia (50%), an Australian infrastructure investment fund, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a pension fund owned by the Canadian Government (37.5%), and Desjardin Employees’ Pension Fund (12.5%), a North American pension fund. This means South East Water is effectively 37.5% owned by the Canadian state.

South East Water supplies water to 2 million customers in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.

South West Water is owned by Pennon Group Ltd (UK), a UK plc listed on the London Stock Exchange. Pennon Group also owns Viridor, a waste management company, and the Bournemouth Water brand.

South West Water provides drinking water and waste water services in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.

Southern Water is privately owned (through a series of holding companies) by the single-purpose company Greensands Holding Limited. Greensands is in turn owned by a series of investment and infrastructure funds, including UBS Asset Management (UK), JP Morgan Asset Management (US), Whitehelm Capital (Australia) and Hermes Infrastructure Funds (UK), amongst other. 

Southern Water supplies water and sewerage services to customers across the south of England.

Thames Water is owned by a series of investment companies, many of them sovereign wealth funds or pension funds owned and run by foreign governments. Thames Water's 2017 annual report in fact shows that the company is over 50% owned by foreign states through pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. 

UK's biggest water provider, supplying water and sewerage services to 15 million people in London and the Thames Valley and serve over one quarter of the UK's population. Thames Water has been criticised for financialising one of Britain's key utilities, prioritising shareholder dividends and operating with a high level of debt. A Financial Times investigation revealed that Thames Water paid no corporation tax between 2011-15, and has paid out over £1.16 billion in dividends between 2006-15.

United Utilities is UK plc listed on the London Stock Exchange, so is owned by a range of investors. 

United Utilities supplies water to 7 million customers in North West England

Since 2002, Wessex Water has been 100% owned by YTL Corporation, a Malaysian global infrastructure conglomerate. YTL Corporation is publicly traded on the Malaysian and Tokyo stock exchanges.

Wessex Water supplies over 1 million customers in Bristol, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire and parts of Gloucestershire and Hampshire.

Yorkshire Water is ultimately owned (through a complex series of holding companies) by Kelda Holdings, which is incorporated in Jersey. Kelda is owned by a series of investment and sovereign wealth funds, including: RREEF Pan - European Infrastructure Fund (23.4%) Gateway Infrastructure Investments L.P., Gateway UK Water L.P. and Gateway UK Water II L.P., (managed by Corsair Infrastructure Management L.P.) (30.3%) Prudential (10.0%) SAS Trustee Corporation (10.0%).

Most notably, 26% of the company is owned by GIC Special Investments, a sovereign wealth fund owned by the government of Singapore.

Yorkshire Water provides water supply to customers in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, part of North Lincolnshire, most of North Yorkshire and part of Derbyshire.

Have you seen a story of privatisation failing? Email us the link at info@weownit.org.uk and we'll add it to the list!