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Water provider comes back in Welsh control.

Welsh Water, the water and sewerage business of utility Hyder, is to be sold to a group of Welsh investors in a deal worth pounds 1.8 billion.

It follows a court wrangle with Birmingham-based Severn Trent.

WPD, the US owner of Hyder, said yesterday it had agreed in principle to sell the business - also known as Dwr Cymru - to Glas Cymru Cyfyngedig.

Glas is a consortium of around 200 members, many with strong Welsh connections, headed by former permanent secretary to the Treasury Lord Burns, who has been fighting to keep the business in Welsh hands.

The company was formed with the sole purpose of acquiring Welsh Water.

Under the deal, Glas will outsource, under competitive contract, the day-to-day operation of Welsh Water's assets and customer services.

However, Welsh Water will still retain overall responsibility for providing safe and reliable drinking water to all its customers.

Last month WPD agreed not to contract out Welsh Water operations to rival firm United Utilities.

The contract had been the source of a High Court action led by Severn Trent Water which had claimed that granting it to United Utilities had been in breach of European and UK procurement regulations.

Severn Trent was successful in its court action.

Robert Symons, WPD chief executive, said: 'When we acquired Hyder we promised to ensure that Welsh Water would become a strong and independent company again.

'The offer by Glas meets this objective and I am confident that under Glas' ownership Welsh Water will be a successful enterprise, focused on what matters most - providing its customers with an excellent service.'

The acquisition still needs to be cleared by the water industry regulator Philip Fletcher.

WPD won control of Hyder in the summer following a bitter battle with Japanese bank Nomura.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 4, 2000
Words:295
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