CMA

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Pennon Group's acquisition of Bristol Water has moved closer to completion as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it is likely that evidence provided by the former would be accepted in response to concerns the deal could undermine Ofwat's ability to regulate. Meanwhile, the CMA has also launched a merger inquiry into the acquisition of a minority stake in gas distribution network SGN by Brookfield Asset Management.
News
The CMA has raised concerns that Pennon's acquisition of Bristol Water could impede Ofwat's ability to regulate the market. The deal, which was completed in June, will be referred to a phase two investigation unless the companies can address the CMA's concerns.
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Anglian has created an environment directorate and welcomed Robin Price back from Water Resources East to head it up; Shell Energy Retail's chief executive Ed Kamm will step down in the new year to be succeeded by Tony Keeling, formerly of SSE
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The trade body for the water sector has set out its thinking on Ofwat's proposed framework for the next price review in 2024. Water UK urged it to reflect the CMA's thinking on cost of capital to keep the sector appealing to the long-term investors it requires for necessary major infrastructure projects
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During the unprecedented year that was 2020, Ofwat said it was not able to give the focus it wanted to companies' performance in the sector and instead concentrated on one or two. Attention was taken up dealing with the pandemic and the four cases referred to the CMA. Despite this the regulator achieved the majority of its goals for the year against 2020/21 targets.
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The publication of the Competition and Market Authority(CMA)'s water redeterminations justify why a record four companies sought an appeal. With gains made on all sides Utility Week explores what has been won and lost.
Analysis
The CMA has set the cost of capital for the four water companies that rejected their price review last February. The new figure of 3.2 per cent is closer to Ofwat’s final determinations than the CMA's provisional findings in September.
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This week marks one year since the deadline for water companies in England and Wales to accept or reject Ofwat's final determinations for PR19. Ruth Williams delves into the final submissions to the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) - from the appellant companies and the regulator - and recaps the arguments so far.
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The Competition and Markets Authority has nudged back the estimated date for its PR19 final redeterminations, which are now expected to appear in "late" February. It follows a series of consultations on several areas, including the cost of capital.
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Investors have rallied in response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’s revised approach to the cost of capital in the PR19 appeals. Infrastructure investment groups warned of long-term repercussions of the CMA’s change of tack, with one suggesting it brought the water sector “perilously close to the edge” of not being attractive to investors. Meanwhile, Ofwat warned the CMA that arguments are “likely to have been from investors that seek to protect their existing valuations” rather than concern for future investment.
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Ofwat has rejected calls to change its charging rules to let appellant companies implement whatever ruling the CMA determines from April 2021. The updated charges will now not come into place until 2022.
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The CMA has updated its approach to the cost of debt and the cost of equity for the four water company appeals to PR19 business plans. The body has launched a consultation to its revised approaches that will inform the final redetermination in mid-February.
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