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WPD wraps up deal with Hyder

WESTERN POWER Distribution this week emerged as the victor in the battle for control of water utility Hyder, raising questions about the future of its civil engineering staff.

WPD plans to franchise management of Hyder's water assets to its subsidiary United Utilities, which owns neighbouring water utility North West Water.

Eventually, the company expects to put management of its infrastructure out to competitive tender.

Hyder's Welsh Water division is likely to fall into WPD's ownership in less than three weeks, if the offer gains acceptance from all shareholders by 6 September.

WPD said it would not comment on how the changes would affect Hyder staff until after the shareholder vote.

However, a Hyder spokesman said: 'You can't take Welsh Water out of Wales, so that offers a certain degree of stability.'

Last week, neighbouring water utility Severn Trent threatened to challenge the WPD bid in the courts, because it has no short term plans to put management of Hyder's assets out to competitive tender.

An Ofwat spokesman doubted whether such a challenge would succeed as WPD has long term plans to put infrastructure management out to competitive tender.

'We are confident that within seven years any arrangements of this type will be out for competitive tendering, ' he said.

Takeover timetable

18 April: Hyder agrees to a bid from Nomura for a straightforward takeover of Welsh Water at 260p a share.

29 June: WPD puts in a 300p a share bid.

14 July: The European Commission clears WPD's plan to award franchise for operating its infrastructure.

1 August: Nomura increases offer to 320p a share.

2 August: Trade Secretary Stephen Byers clears WPD bid saying franchising plan does not raise compeition issues.

3 August: WPD raises its bid to 340p per share.

10 August: Nomura offers 360p per share. Takeover panel calls for sealed bids to be submitted by 11 August.

11 August: WPD submitted a bid of 365p per Hyder share but misses the 4.30 pm deadline. The panel executive allows the bid to proceed anyway.

16 August: Takeover panel rejects Nomura's appeal. Nomura withdraws from the race.

18 August: Hyder publicly accepts WPD bid. Severn Trent threatens court action over WPD's plans to let management of Welsh Water's assets to its subsidiary North West Water without a competitive tender.

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