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Glas Cymru celebrates 15th anniversary

11/05/2016
  • Glas Cymru bought Welsh Water in 2001
  • Named world’s top deal in 2001 by International Financial Review
  • Company’s not-for-profit model is still unique in the water sector
  • Welsh Water contributes around £1 billion a year to Wales’ economy
  • Plans to achieve a decade of below inflation annual price increases by 2020
  • Investing billions in its water and wastewater services

Welsh Water’s parent company, Glas Cymru Holdings Cyf, is today celebrating 15 years since buying the water and sewerage company on 11th May 2001 and creating the first - and still only - not-for-profit water company in England and Wales.

Glas Cymru was formed in 2000 by Welsh Water’s current Chief Executive, Chris Jones, and former Managing Director, Nigel Annett, so that they could buy and manage Welsh Water which provides water and wastewater services across most of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside. Despite significant interest from other international companies and banks, Glas Cymru succeeded in buying Welsh Water from Western Power Distribution in May 2001, financed by a £1.9 billion bond issue - the largest ever, non-Government-backed, corporate bond issue.

As the fifth largest company in Wales, Welsh Water employs nearly 3,000 staff and contributes around £1 billion a year to the Welsh economy. With no shareholders, its unique model has enabled the company to do much more for its customers than would otherwise be possible over the past 15 years, including:

  • investing over £4.5 billion in its water and wastewater services which is amongst the biggest private investment programme ever undertaken in the area
  • returning over £300 million to customers in the form of ‘customer dividends’ through reducing bills, accelerating investment and helping customers who struggle to pay their bills
  • helping more customers than ever before, around 50,000, who struggle to pay their bills through its range of tariffs, with plans increase this to over 100,000 by 2020
  • improving drinking water and wastewater services with the company coming second in Ofwat’s Customer satsifaction Survey for the second year running in 2015-16
  • helping ensure that Wales now has around a third of the UK’s Blue Flags – despite only having 15% of the coastline – which benefit local economies
  • securing the best credit ratings in the utilities sector which means it can borrow money more cheaply with savings reinvested for the benefit of customers.

Welsh Water’s Chief Executive, Chris Jones said: “Whilst we are proud to be different to every other water company, we have always demanded the highest possible standards on behalf of customers and also securing value for money. We focus relentlessly on the three million people we serve and with all our gains going directly to customers, this has enabled us to significantly improve the services that we provide since 2001 so that we now lead the industry on many of the measures that matter most to customers. The Glas Cymru model proves that there really is an alternative way of providing the most essential of public services”

“Our unique way of doing things ensures that we can focus relentlessly on our customers and we continue to measure ourselves against the best, both in the sector and beyond, so that we can truly become customer-led company. The success achieved since 2001 could not be possible without the dedication and hard work of all our colleagues who have been involved in the company and play such a crucial part in helping us maintain our services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

With the Welsh Water’s record £1.7 billion investment between 2015 and 2020 in its water and wastewater services already underway, Glas Cymru confirm that it has recently modernised its governance structure in March 2016 to enable the company to respond more effectively to changes within the water and wastewater sectors. It also reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding Welsh Water’s not-for-profit model.

Enquiries to the Welsh Water press office on 01443 452452 or press@dwrcymru.com

FACTBOX

The owner of ones of Wales’ biggest companies – Welsh Water – turns 15 today, marking a milestone for the owner of the UK’s first and only not-for-profit water company.

Here’s the top facts you need to know about Welsh Water:

  1. Welsh Water generates about £1 billion a year into the Welsh economy – and amounts to the fifth largest company in Wales, employing nearly 3,000 people.
  2. At the time, the acquisition of Welsh Water was a very big deal – its current chief executive, Chris Jones, and then-managing director, Nigel Annett, fought off international companies eager to gain control of a national asset – and took Welsh Water into a pioneering not-for-profit model, the first of its kind in the UK…making it the world’s top deal in 2001 according to International Financial Review.
  3. The buyout of Welsh Water in 2001 remains unique in the UK. It is the only water and sewerage company that doesn’t work for shareholders…and invests any and all of its profits back into the business.
  4. Despite its name, the company actually supplies people outside of Wales as well – with households in parts of the Wirral and Cheshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire – amounting to around three million customers in total.
  5. Since it emerged in 2001, Glas Cymru has overseen a big reduction in the number of pollution incidents, a big improvement in customer complaints and achieved a third of the Blue Flag environmental awards for bathing quality – despite only having 15% of the coastline.
  6. As part of a £26 billion network of assets, Welsh Water maintains 27,500km of water mains and more than 30,000km of sewers – enough to stretch to Australia and back.

TIMELINE

The owner of ones of Wales’ biggest companies –Welsh Water – turns 15 today, marking a milestone for the owner of the UK’s first and only not-for-profit utilities company.

Here’s the big moments in the history of Wales’ not-for-profit water company:

1989: Welsh Water is founded from the privatisation in 1989 of water supply and waste water arms of the Welsh Water Authority – taking over from 22 river authorities and water boards, as well as 11 local councils.

1996: The company is renamed Hyder after it took over electricity company SWALEC, becoming a water and electricity utilities firm.

2001: Chris Jones and Nigel Annett lead a successful buyout of Welsh Water from Hyder owner Western Power Distribution, financed by a £1.9bn bond issue, making the firm into the UK’s only not-for-profit water company – not answerable to shareholders, only customers.

2003: Welsh Water is named as the best water and sewerage company in England and Wales by the regulator Ofwat – just two years after the takeover.

2011: Glas Cymru’s international credit rating becomes the best of the UK water sector – exceeding that of some countries.

2013: Cardiff University finds Welsh Water generates £1 billion annually for the Welsh economy, with £1.56 being generated for every £1 spent.

2014: The company records its best financial results since becoming a not-for-profit company – investing £1 million a day.

2015: Welsh Water pledges to reduce customer bills by 5% in real terms between 2015 and 2020 as part of its deal with regulator Ofwat, also investing £1.6bn in its network.

2016: Glas Cymru marks 15 years since its pioneering takeover of Welsh Water.