MP ‘Still Fighting Bid’ After Meeting Severn Trent Chief Exec Over Dee Valley Takeover
Yesterday morning local MP Ian Lucas met with Liv Garfield, the Chief Executive of Severn Water and told her of his ‘continuing concerns’ over the Dee Valley Water takeover bid.
Last week it was announced that Dee Valley Group PLC is to be acquired by Severn Trent PLC for £78.5 million.
A month ago the company had agreed a £71m deal with Ancala Fornia Limited, however today it has been announced that the company is being sold elsewhere in a precisely 10% better deal with Severn Trent.
Dee Valley Water has said the recommendation for the Ancala Fornia bid has been withdrawn with a new recommendation for Severn Trent’s bid.
Severn Trent say they: “Intend to maintain front line field force operations at Dee Valley’s current locations in Wrexham and Chester.”
Severn Trent has also said it intends to maintain a separate Welsh licence for Dee Valley Group and intends for the whole of its business to be regulated under Welsh government policy.
Mr Lucas told us shortly after Monday’s meeting: “I am really strongly opposed to this bid. I very much support localism in the delivery of public services and I know Dee Valley Water is a private company but it is a very responsive private company, very responsible locally and has a very close relationship with its employees and the public in the area.
“I was really concerned when I heard about the Ancala bid but I met with the Chief Executive of Dee Valley Water, and I have a close relationship with him, and received assurances about that bid that we would have a separate entity that would be Dee Valley Water and that there was nothing to be concerned about.
“What we have here is a completely different kettle of fish, I think it will be swallowed up by a much larger organisation from outside the area. I have continuing concerns about the employment of local people, about the quality of the service, about the remoteness of the service and all of those matters leave me with the conclusion we have got to fight this bid.
“That is exactly what I told the Chief Executive of Severn Trent.
“We have to send a very clear message to Severn Trent that we don’t want this to go ahead. From the way they were talking to me they were very clear they were planning to go ahead.
“I am going to work hard on the regulatory aspects of it, I have had an interesting discussion about the regulatory framework and I am hoping I can get the Competition Markets Authority involved to consider the competitive aspects of the bid to use the law to defend the independence of a local company.
“We need to pull together all the threads and work with the local workforce and trades unions there to try and fight the bid and keep this important company, which is headquartered here in our region and employs people as a local entity.
“It just shows you what a dreadful system it is for public utility to be in the control of private entities who can do this without elected representatives, local employees, local elected councillors, local people, being consulted at any stage. This was a done deal by the time I knew about it, and now we are fighting from a defensive position. Something like this should be, if not within public control, the public should have a strong say.”
The Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs and local Assembly Member Lesley Griffiths has made the following short statement on the proposed acquisition of Dee Valley Group by Severn Trent Water:
“I am receiving regular updates on Severn Trent’s proposed acquisition of Dee Valley Group from my officials, who are in contact with representatives of the water industry.
“I am seeking reassurances from Severn Trent about the implications of the proposed acquisition; in particular how Severn Trent intends to protect the local workforce, jobs, community and customers.
“This acquisition is between two private companies and I have no formal role in the process. It is being dealt with by the Competition and Markets Authority. Although mergers and acquisition between water companies is a non-devolved matter, I will be seeking assurances from Ofwat that Welsh Government policy has been taken into account.”
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