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|16 August, 2018

Saudi Arabia consults international companies on water privatisation drive

NWC invited local and international water companies to participate in a market-sounding exercise that will gauge the interest of potential investors.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A worker stands at a desalination plant, 35 lm south of Riyadh, May 4, 2011.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A worker stands at a desalination plant, 35 lm south of Riyadh, May 4, 2011.

REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

RIYADH- Saudi Arabia's state-owned National Water Co (NWC) said on Thursday it was starting preparations to involve international companies in the kingdom's water distribution and treatment sector, part of privatisation plans drafted by the government.

NWC invited local and international water companies to participate in a market-sounding exercise that will gauge the interest of potential investors. Companies were asked to register by Aug. 30.

Officials have previously said they may let private companies operate, maintain and develop water distribution services in up to six regions of the arid country.

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The private sector would take responsibility for capital spending and operating risk, reducing pressure on state finances, in exchange for regular payments under long-term contracts.

The government hopes such public-private partnerships, in water, education and other areas of infrastructure, will help to revive foreign direct investment in Saudi Arabia, which plunged to a 14-year low of $1.4 billion in 2017. Riyadh has said it aims to generate $9 billion to $11 billion of non-oil state revenues from its privatisation programme by 2020.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia, editing by David Evans) ((andrew.torchia@thomsonreuters.com; +9715 6681 7277; Reuters Messaging: andrew.torchia.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))