Local jobs, services and suppliers at risk from hostile takeover bid
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd has made a public appeal to Dee Valley Water shareholders to consider local jobs, services and customers before making a decision on the proposed takeover of the firm by Severn Trent Water.
Speaking after a two-hour visit to the Dee Valley Water HQ at Packsaddle, Pentrebychan, near Wrexham, where he met managers and workers, he said there was obvious concern at all levels of the company about the uncertainty caused by the takeover bid.
Mr Gruffydd said: “This is no ordinary takeover. Firstly, we’re dealing with the most basic natural resource – water – and secondly, this is a local firm steeped in history and one with an excellent track record in terms of delivering a quality service. It’s very clear that this is far more than just another company in terms of staff commitment to quality and to their customers in the area.
“The aggressive takeover bid by Severn Trent would probably mean at least half that workforce disappearing, the 80 local suppliers losing out and customers having to deal with a remote multinational firm based in Coventry. That’s why I’m making a public appeal today to Dee Valley’s many small shareholders to consider these issues very carefully when it comes to the vote at the Extraordinary General Meeting in January. Some may believe that the takeover of a water firm by another water firm is a natural fit but the negative impact on jobs, local suppliers and customer service of a Severn Trent takeover is becoming increasingly clear.”
Mr Gruffydd also called for the Competition and Markets Authority, which regulates monopoly takeovers, to instigate a Phase 2 investigation. This is a more in-depth investigation to examine what impact the proposed takeover would have on consumers and the water regulator’s ability to monitor and make comparisons between water enterprises. The CMA has already launched a more limited Phase 1 inquiry but Mr Gruffydd said he believed there were grounds to go for the more comprehensive Phase 2 investigation.
After meeting staff, Mr Gruffydd said: “Management and workers alike stressed that this was a successful company that was delivering a good service, providing steady employment and using local suppliers. The ping-pong of rival takeover bids has introduced a very unwelcome level of uncertainty into people’s lives and workers and consumers alike are being treated as mere spectators in a game where nobody’s quite sure of the rules. There is a wider game afoot, involving attempts to muscle into the Welsh water industry by a company based in England. That’s not welcome by me, by the workforce or by the wider community.
“I will continue to do my best to serve the interests of people who deliver this important service and also ensure that water consumers are given a voice in all of this. I’m grateful for the support of Plaid Cymru’s leader Leanne Wood in raising this in the Senedd earlier this week and we will not abandon this struggle until we safeguard the future of Dee Valley Water.”