Sutton Water Confirms It’s for Sale After Report of Chinese Bid

Sutton & East Surrey Water Plc, a utility based in southeastern England, confirmed it was for sale after a U.K. newspaper reported China’s Beijing Water Authority may buy the company.

“Our shareholders expect to attract interest from investors with a similar outlook seeking to invest for the long term,” Anthony Ferrar, managing director of the utility, said today by e-mail. Citigroup Inc. is managing the sale, he said, declining to comment on any interest from potential buyers.

The Sunday Times said Jan. 27 that the Beijing Water Authority is poised to buy the Redhill-based utility for 300 million pounds ($472 million). The Chinese company has hired HSBC Holdings Plc to advise on the purchase, the newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

HSBC and Citigroup declined to comment, and a call to Beijing Water wasn’t answered after regular business hours.

Sutton & East Surrey Water has 655,000 customers in east Surrey, West Sussex, west Kent and south London. Investors in the closely held company comprise a “small number” of pension funds and asset managers, Ferrar said.

China already invests in the U.K. water industry through China Investment Corp.’s 9 percent stake in Thames Water, the U.K.’s biggest water provider by customers. Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-shing agreed to pay 645 million pounds for Wales & West Utilities Ltd. in July and led the $3.9 billion acquisition of Northumbrian Water Group Plc in 2011.