Thames Water received takeover
bid valued at $6 billion

LONDON, Sept. 20 — Thames Water, Britain’s largest water utility, said Wednesday it has received a takeover bid that values it at close to $6 billion, and expects to make a decision within a week. The identity of the bidder was not disclosed.

GERMAN MULTI-UTILITY RWE is viewed as the most likely bidder. But other groups, including France’s Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, could also be interested, analysts said.
       Thames Water’s attractions include its London client base, respected management and aggressive international expansion.
       Analysts and investors, mindful of regulatory constraints facing Thames Water in Britain, said the proposed price of 12.15 pounds ($17.50) a share was fair.
       The offer represents a premium of 33 percent to the group’s closing share price on Tuesday. At midday Wednesday, Thames Water shares were up 26 percent.
       The company faces dwindling earnings from its British operations, where its prices are being forced down by 12.5 percent over the next five years by the regulator.

       But the size of its British client base of 12 million customers in and around London, its ability to squeeze more profit from wastewater and other services and its expansion into the U.S. and Latin America have made the company attractive.
       Thames Water’s largest shareholders include Franklin Resources Inc. with 9 percent; Capital Group Companies Inc. with 6 percent; and Standard Life Group with 3 percent.