Thames Water lenders hire EY as debt deadline looms

Thames Water lenders hire EY as debt deadline looms

A group of lenders to Thames Water’s parent company have engaged advisers weeks before a £190m debt held by Britain’s biggest water utility falls due.

Sky News has learnt that a syndicate of financiers which is owed the sum by Kemble Water, under which Thames’s regulated operations sit, has drafted in the big four accountancy firm amid growing concerns about the company’s survival.

A £190m facility is due to be repaid or extended by the end of April, with the utility’s bosses telling MPs in December that it was “not currently” able to repay the funding.

The progress towards a successful conclusion of discussions with the relevant lenders was unclear on Friday.

Uncertainty has surrounded the solvency of Thames Water since last June when Sky News revealed that Whitehall had begun drawing up contingency plans for its collapse.

Thames Water serves 15 million customers across London and the southeast of England, and has come under intense pressure in recent years because of its poor record on leaks, sewage contamination, executive pay and shareholder dividends.

It is facing a slew of big fines from regulators, and has requested from Ofwat a package of measures to shore up its finances, including a rise in consumer bills of up to 40% and delays to capital expenditure plans.

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EY declined to comment.

Separately, a vehicle headed by the prominent City financier Edi Truell has proposed a deal to Thames Water’s pension trustees that would involve it removing £1.7bn of pension obligations from the company’s balance sheet.

Pension SuperFund Capital, Mr Truell’s vehicle, has offered to structure the deal in a way which entails no cash cost to Thames Water, according to insiders.