Marubeni Corp., the owner of Chile’s third-biggest water company, will spend ¥25 billion to double the size of its international water assets in two years.
The trading house plans to buy water-service companies in Southeast Asia, Australia and the Middle East as well as add to assets in Chile and China to double the number of people it supplies to 10 million by March 2013, Yoji Ibuki, head of Marubeni’s environment infrastructure unit, said in a recent interview.
The company this month completed a ¥40 billion acquisition of Aguas Nuevas SA of Chile and the proposed investments will propel the company into the top 10 global water providers, Ibuki said.
Veolia Environment SA and Suez Environment Co. of France and Spain’s Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona SA, the three largest water companies, supply services to about 300 million people, according to Marubeni.
“Water and infrastructure projects are preferred businesses for Japanese trading houses since the government traditionally helps with a large portion of the investment,” said Yasuhiro Narita, an analyst at Nomura Securities Co. “To clinch bigger, more attractive water deals, it’s good for Marubeni to chalk up a track record.”
Marubeni and its Beijing unit hold a 30 percent stake in a sewage treatment company in Anhui Province, eastern China, which also operates units in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Hunan provinces. Marubeni plans to expand its business in Southeast Asia through the Chinese venture, Ibuki said.
Asian countries the company wants to invest in include China, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, he said.
French companies are also expanding in China. Suez Chief Executive Officer Jean-Louis Chaussade said in June his company, which earns 80 percent of its revenue from Europe, would pursue joint ventures in China.
In Marubeni’s latest deal in Chile, the trading house and Innovation Network Corporation of Japan bought Aguas Nuevas from a unit of Banco Santander SA. Acquired assets include 33 water purification facilities such as desalination plants and 39 sewage farms.
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