Saudi Arabia prepares for wastewater privatisation

14 May 2012

National Water Company seeking advisers for selling wastewater assets

Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company (NWC) is pushing ahead with plans to part-privatise its water and wastewater assets and is in the process of appointing advisers to help manage the scheme.

Under the plans, NWC is looking to sell stakes in all its assets to the private sector through the establishment of two special purpose vehicles. One will hold all the assets in Riyadh, the other will contain assets in Jeddah, Mecca and Taif. NWC will remain a significant shareholder in the plants, while a private sector firm will take on operation and maintenance of the plants.

Advisers have been invited to a pre-bid conference on 15 May and bids to work with NWC are due in June. By September, NWC plans to have chosen a team of consultants, which will then have six months to work on a study about how best to implement the privatisation plans.

The value of the privatisation plans will depend on how much of a stake NWC sells off. “These are going to be very sizeable transactions when they come to market,” says one Riyadh-based source.

A source close to NWC says that by mid-2014, a private sector operator should be selected to take on management of the Riyadh assets. Around a year later, an operator should be in place to take on the Jeddah, Mecca and Taif assets.

NWC has been working on a privatisation plan since it was established in 2007 to takeover the water and wastewater industry from the Water & Electricity Ministry. Last year, a few trial privatisations were executed.

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