SPOTLIGHT: Aguas Andinas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Aguas Andinas is Chile's largest water utility, providing service to more than 6.8mn people mainly in the Metropolitan region, home to capital Santiago. The company also controls water utility Essal, which serves over 600,000 residents in regions X and XIV in southern Chile.

Operating under a non-expiring concession and ownership of water rights, it provides integrated water cycle management: water abstraction and potable water production, storage and distribution; and sewage collection and treatment.

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The utility boasts more than 2mn customers for water distribution and 1.95mn for sewage treatment. As of end-2011, it had 42.6% market share in terms of customers, followed by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (36.1%), which owns concessionaires Essbio and Esval; and Japan's Marubeni (9.6%), which controls Aguas del Altiplano, Aguas Araucanía, Aguas Magallanes and Aguas Décima.

Aguas Andinas started out as Empresa Metropolitana de Obras Sanitarias (Emos) in 1977. In 1998, Chile's government began the process to privatize the water industry, and Emos was privatized in 1999 and renamed Aguas Andinas. The utility is controlled by Spanish group Agbar through special purpose company Inversiones Aguas Metropolitanas (IAM).

Other subsidiaries it has in the metropolitan region include water utilities Aguas Cordillera and Aguas Manquehue, as well as the country's largest industrial wastewater treatment operator, EcoRiles, which operates plants for clients in Chile's agriculture, mining, chemical and wine industries.

Earlier this month Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes met with Aguas Andinas executives to discuss a strategic plan to expand the former's potable water coverage, looking to get ideas and learn best practices in the Chilean model.

In Chile, water tariffs are defined every five years, and the latest agreement reached between Andinas and national water regulator SISS leaves tariffs largely unchanged for the utility, alleviating market concerns as a reduction had been forecast.

Brokerage BICE Inversiones said the outcome of Aguas Andinas' 2015-20 tariff review was "better than expected" and reduces main mid-term risk.

In 2013, Andinas saw net income of 117bn pesos (US$191mn), slipping 4% from the year before.