Jan 31, 2005

Veolia Water Invests in China’s Economic Growth

Veolia Water expects to maintain its growth in China and sign another four contracts there this year, the company’s CEO said Friday.

"Veolia Water's business in China may grow 20 percent annually for 15 years and will account for 10 percent of our global business by 2020," said Antoine Frerot, Veolia Water's chief executive officer.

Frerot said this target will be achieved on three conditions: China maintains its current economic growth for 10 years; more than 15 million people migrate each year from rural areas to cities; and the Chinese government maintains its firm stance on improving drinking water standards.

Since the nation opened the water distribution sector to foreign investors in 2002, the French company annually has signed three to four contracts, on either drinking water supply or wastewater treatment.

The CEO made his statement at the opening of Shanghai Pudong Veolia Water Centre – a new arm of Veolia Water's 50-50 joint venture with Pudong Tap Water Co. in Shanghai.

The centre combines water quality control, water flow management and a 24-hour customer service call operation.

Veolia spent $345.8 million (US) on a 50 percent stake in Pudong Tap Water Co. in 2002. Veolia also set up Shanghai Pudong Veolia Water Corp Ltd, in which Veolia Water has operating rights for 50 years.

The firm supplies drinking water to Pudong, a rapidly growing district of Shanghai, and is the nation's first Sino-foreign joint venture entrusted with the fully integrated services of water production, distribution, customer billing and water usage fee collection.

Veolia Water has invested $650 million (US) in the Chinese water market and has signed 13 water service and sewage treatment contracts in the country since 1997, Frerot said.

The projects cover coastal areas such as Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province and Tianjin Municipality in North China, as well as inland cities, including Baoji in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Zunyi in Southwest China's Guizhou Province.