A private equity fund buys Indáqua

Translation in English of a STAL (Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Administração Local e Regional, Empresas Públicas, Concessionárias e Afins) press release.

Lisbon, 1 February 2019

STAL denounces the public water trade

In 2016, the portuguese construction group Mota-Engil, majority shareholder of Indáqua, the other shareholder being the German insurance group Talanx, sold its stake to the Israeli group Miya for € 60 million.

After three years, Indáqua, one of the largest private water service concessionaires in our country, is the target of a new transaction, bought this time by the International Private Equity Fund, Bridgepoint, ignoring the amounts involved in this business.

A business which, as STAL has always denounced, confirms that the financialization and growing dominance of foreign capital in the water sector, an inseparable consequence of privatization, would be a matter of time, as in all sectors open to privatization.

After all, private companies and corporations are themselves commodities, tradable among transnational financial groups, and foreign capital has always been the main beneficiary of the privatizations of the national public patrimony. In addition to Indáqua, it is recalled that AGS, once owned by other portuguese construction company, Somague, is now owned by two Japanese conglomerates, Marubeni and INJC. Only Aquapor, formerly belonging to Águas de Portugal group, and privatized in 2008, remains as a national capital company.

Today, the spanish-run economic groups, via Aqualia and BeWater's Chinese, who bought the concessions held by Veolia (formerly Génerale des Eaux), already account for about 30% of a sector that is absolutely strategic.

For financial capital this is a surely attractive business. After all, it is about investing in water, an essential asset to life with assured demand and profitability: after all, where there are human beings, there are always potential clients. And where there is scarcity, real or potential, there is a tremendous business opportunity there, for the more scarce a greater good is its economic value. Do they think: Is there a better deal than life on the stock market?

For municipalities that delivered water to private groups, thus subjecting themselves to interests that are not covered by the vote and mortgaging the capacity for intervention that the public interest requires, what this business proves once again, is that it can not be done to control what is not possessed, and for populations and workers this means that water and the public service will continue to be managed as commodities, subject to speculation and profit maximization, with serious economic and social consequences which are known, and that only the struggle can reverse.

TAL will continue to denounce and combat the water business and fight for water to remain and return to public control, for a quality and democratic public management, an indissociable condition to ensure everyone the right to water.