Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company (NWC) is close to appointing advisers for a plan to part-privatise its water and wastewater assets.

UK-headquartered advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is understood to be favourite to win the mandate, although NWC is also considering splitting the privatisation in two and awarding the other contract to Netherlands-based KPMG.

The privatisation schemes will involve NWC putting all its assets into one of two special purpose vehicles (SPVs) which are then sold off to the private sector. One will hold all the NWC assets in Riyadh and the other will hold its Jeddah, Mecca and Taif assets. If the advisory mandate is split in two, one firm will work on the sale of the Riyadh assets and the other will work on the sale of the remaining assets.

NWC is expected to remain a significant shareholder in the two SPVs, with a private sector consortium taking on the remainder and responsibility for the operations and maintenance of the plants. By 2014 NWC wants to have selected the private sector partner for the scheme, with assets transferred around a year later.

Three bids for the advisory work were made earlier in the summer, with UK-headquartered Ernst & Young the other bidder.