Leep Utilities, which is backed by Ancala Partners, has completed its purchase of SSE’S new appointments and variations (NAV) company, SSE Water, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is believed to make Leep the largest UK operator in the NAV market and will see the company gain more than 20,000 new customers across 28 sites in southern England and Wales.

Leep will take on six staff members with more than “130 years’ combined industry experience” as part of the transaction.

Louise Manfredi, managing director, Leep Utilities, said: “We are delighted to complete the purchase of SSE Water. The acquisition supports Leep Utilities’ ambition to provide a full multi-utility adoption offering and complements our strategy of delivering new ‘straightforward connections’ to developers and connection providers across the country.

“To ensure a seamless continuation of service for customers, we have worked closely with the existing team to ensure we deliver the best service possible.”

When news emerged in February that SSE had agreed to sell its “non-core” water business, SSE described the company as a “good business” but said it does not form part of SSE’s main focus on energy networks.

SSE said there would be “no material loss of earnings or gain on sale.”

Ofwat’s chief executive Rachel Fletcher recently challenged incumbent companies operating wholly or mainly in England to do more to support the development of markets.

In an open letter published on 28 May Fletcher said the overall level of incumbent water company support for markets is “unacceptable”.

Leep Utilities is a joint venture between mid-market investment manager Ancala Partners and private real estate investment and infrastructure company Peel Group.

Spence Clunie, managing partner at Ancala Partners, said: “This acquisition makes us the leading operator in the NAV sector, which offers strong growth potential. There is a shortage of NAV companies compared to existing operators in the market for new water connections and Ofwat has made it clear that it wants a vigorous NAV market, delivering water and wastewater networks more efficiently to developers while giving service and value to end-customers.”

Leep will combine SSE Water with its own operations in the sector, which includes two networks, or “insets”, at Media City in Manchester and Liverpool International Business Park.

The company owns and operates regulated and non-regulated utility networks, including electricity, water and district heating networks, with a portfolio of sites across the country.

Ancala Partners completed its acquisition of Portsmouth Water in March 2018 in a deal believed to be worth between £150 million and £160 million.

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