CKI Water Going North
29 April, 2004 -- Hong Kong
Further to the recent acquisition of AquaTower Pty Ltd in Australia at the end of March, Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Limited ("CKI" or the "Company") made its first foray into water assets in the United Kingdom ("UK"). The Company has acquired 100% of Cambridge Water in South Cambridgeshire, UK.
In announcing this acquisition, Mr H L Kam, Group Managing Director of the Company, said: "CKI has always shown an interest in water assets and this acquisition marks a major milestone for the Company. We have been vigorously seeking quality water projects for some time. Cambridge Water represents our second acquisition in water assets in a month, and we expect that this segment will become one of CKI's core businesses. The acquisition is notably also our first investment in the UK, and our first major foreign investment outside of China and Australia."
Cambridge Water has a long-established pedigree that dates back to 1853. It possesses an integrated distribution system that includes 7 service reservoirs, 10 water towers and 2,200 km of water mains, supplying a population of approximately 298,000 in an area that spans over 1,173 sq km.
The consideration for the acquisition was GBP 51,375,000 (HK$717,708,750) and the transaction has been completed on 28 April, 2004. Previously, Cambridge Water was owned by Madrid listed company, Union Fenosa. Cambridge Water's profits after tax in 2003 was GBP9.8 million (HK$137.0 million), which is inclusive of profit of GBP7.7 million (HK$107.3 million) made from sales of tangible fixed assets. Net assets of Cambridge Water as at 31 December 2003, was GBP28.0 million (HK$391.3 million).
According to the Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys in the UK, population growth within Cambridge Water's area has been one of the highest in the last two decades, with a cumulative annual growth rate four times the UK's average. The growth of Cambridge Water's customer base is anticipated to be one of the highest in the UK. Cambridge is one of the largest employment centres in the region with some 80,000 jobs and the area is displaying rapid economic growth, particularly in knowledge-based businesses around Cambridge University.
Mr Kam commented on the acquisition: "We are very pleased about the acquisition of Cambridge Water, a robust water company with a projected low-teen equity internal rate of return. The Cambridge area is flourishing and we expect to see sustained growth that continues to outperform the national average.
"The acquisition of Cambridge Water represents CKI's first venture in the UK. Although a first for CKI, other members of the Cheung Kong Group including Hutchison Whampoa Limited, have made substantial investments in the country, making the Group the largest single Asian investor in the UK with interests in projects totaling over GBP11 billion (HK$153.7 billion)," Mr Kam continued.
"The Cheung Kong Group has a diversified portfolio of investments in the UK - ranging from ports, telecoms, property to retail. We anticipate that CKI's acquisition will create effective synergies with the Group's extensive businesses and interests in the UK," expressed Mr Kam.
"We believe that the UK is an important market offering attractive investment opportunities and we are pleased that CKI has staked its first foothold in the country's infrastructure sector. The acquisition provides the Company with an entry into this market and a platform to further expand in the region. We are currently studying a few projects in the country. With this investment in UK water assets, CKI will continue its globalization initiatives and will continue to aggressively source meaningful infrastructure projects in different parts of the world", Mr Kam concluded.
CKI is the largest publicly listed infrastructure company in Hong Kong with diversified investments in Energy Infrastructure, Transportation Infrastructure and Infrastructure Related Business. Operating in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Australia, Canada and the Philippines, it is also a leading player in the global infrastructure arena.
There are altogether 26 water companies in United Kingdom; Cambridge Water is the one that supplies water to the area of South Cambridgeshire, which is located approximately 80 kilometres from London.
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