Thames Water is worthless: That’s the verdict of its biggest investor

Thames Water’s biggest shareholder has slashed the value of its stake to zero as the crisis engulfing Britain’s largest water supplier deepens.

The Canadian pension fund Omers said it would make a ‘full write down’ of its investment in Thames.

The 31.7 per cent stake in Thames parent company Kemble was valued at as much as £990m at the end of 2021.

This was cut to £700m last year as concerns started to mount over the firm’s debt pile. But the pension fund has said it is now worth nothing.

The update came just a day after Michael McNicholas, a managing director at Omers Infrastructure, quit his role as non-executive director of Thames.

Running dry: The Canadian pension fund Omers said it would make a ‘full write down’ of its investment in Thames

The move by Omers to distance itself from Thames underlines the scale of the crisis at the UK’s biggest water company as it fights for survival.

The future of the company, which has an £18billion debt pile, has been in doubt since shareholders last month refused to hand over £500m amid a row with regulator Ofwat. The utility group, which has 16m customers, said shareholders withheld cash because they said demands by regulators left its business plan ‘uninvestable’.

Thames wanted to hike customers’ bills by 40 per cent to fund an £18.7billion investment plan but Ofwat blocked the rise. The parent company also defaulted on debt repayments last month.

Thames Water was privatised in 1989 under Margaret Thatcher, when she sold the nationalised water and sewage industry for £7.6billion. But taxpayers could foot the bill if the Government is forced to bail out Thames, which is facing administration if it cannot raise fresh funds by the end of next year.

Thames has said it aims to spend at least £1.1billion on ‘projects benefiting the environment’.

Ofwat will publish a ruling on all water companies’ five-year plans – including water bills – on June 12.

Severn Trent chief defends £3.2m deal 

In charge: Liv Garfield

In charge: Liv Garfield

Severn Trent’s boss has defended her multi-million pound pay package despite being responsible for over 60,000 sewage spills last year.

Liv Garfield, who has been chief executive since 2014, was handed £3.2m in pay, bonuses and shares in 2023.

The number of sewage spills by Severn Trent reached 60,253, up by more than a third from the year before. Garfield told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that last year’s spills record ‘doesn’t make me feel good’. 

But she added that the business had ‘made massive progress on river quality’ and ‘improved river health’. The company had made ‘dramatic, dramatic progress’, she claimed.