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Suez overtakes Veolia in biggest player stakes

An incredibly in-depth report on the state of the global water industry has revealed the marked changes the business environment has been through in recent years.

Arup has revived the Water Yearbook, previously published by Pinsent Masons, enlisting Envisager’s Dr David Lloyd Owen to analyse companies active in the water and wastewater sectors globally and regionally, mapping the changes affecting the companies and the investment climate.

"Back in 2003, there were five companies that accounted for 73% of the global market in terms of numbers served under [public-private partnerships],” Owen said.

"Three of those top five companies have changed beyond all recognition.

"Meanwhile, both Suez Environnement and Veolia Environnement remain the global leaders in this business. Today, they command a 24% share of the global market, while the current five largest companies account for 35% of the global market in population served terms.”

The rapid growth of water infrastructure in China has also greatly changed the industry, with Beijing Enterprise Water Group now commanding the third largest market share.

"Indeed, 19 of the 50 leading players are primarily involved in China, including 10 of the top 20,” Owen said.

Arup Global Water Leader Dr Mark Fletcher said he hoped the yearbook would be a valuable industry tool, and has been bolstered by the creation of a standalone website,, offering insights from global experts.

"The development of the website to support our Yearbook has provided a real opportunity to share insight to some of the serious contrasting challenges facing the world of water,” he said.

"In a global world of water, the issue of public or private water is frequently discussed. It provides a subtle but very relevant context for public participation which is becoming increasingly relevant in rapidly urbanising and customer-centric societies. Are you a customer or a citizen?

"The relationship between public utilities and their citizens may be fundamentally different to that between private utilities and their customers. It makes you think about multi-agency working and how best to engage people."

The Water Yearbook can be downloaded here.