The Catalan Government to appeal the Supreme Court to defend the allocation of Barcelona’s water supply to Acciona

In March of this year the Catalan Supreme Court (TSJC) cancelled the Catalan Government’s allocation of the publicly-owned Aigües Ter-Llobregat (ATLL) – which supplies water to the 5 million people of Greater Barcelona – to the joint venture led by Acciona and including the Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual. The Government presented an appeal but the TSJC confirmed on the 19th July its previous decision. Now, the Catalan Government has decided to take the issue to Spain’s highest court to defend the allocation. The Government is convinced the tender process was done correctly, but the other main contender, Agbar, states the opposite. In addition, a Catalan Government’s internal body overlooking public tenders stated that Acciona’s offer should not have won.

A tunnel with a water pipe run by ATLL in Greater Barcelona (by P. Solà)
A tunnel with a water pipe run by ATLL in Greater Barcelona (by P. Solà) / ACN


July 30, 2013 10:38 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Catalan Government approved to appeal the Spanish Supreme Court on the decision of the Catalan Supreme Court to cancel the allocation of the publicly-owned Aigües Ter-Llobregat (ATLL) to the joint venture led by Acciona, which included the Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual. ATLL extracts and purifies water and supplies it to the companies serving the 5 million people of Greater Barcelona. The Catalan Government decided to privatise ATLL’s service for a 50-year period to increase exceptional revenue and reduce the public deficit. The tender was allocated in the last quarter of 2012 and it was signed in late December. With the operation, the Catalan Government immediately cashed in €300 million and ensured it would receive €700 million more during the next 50 years (with the price being adjusted to inflation levels). However, Acciona’s main competitor, Agbar, considered the winner offer was not fully respecting an annex of the terms of reference and therefore it should have been excluded from the tender. This opinion was also shared by an internal body of the Catalan Government overlooking public tenders. Accordingly, Agbar took the tender’s results to the Catalan Supreme Court of Justice (TSJC).

The TSJC decided in March to temporarily cancel the tender’s allocation to the joint-venture led by Acciona. However, the Catalan Finance Ministry and that of Territory and Sustainability, both involved in ATLL’s tender, considered that not respecting an annex was not a criterion to be excluded. In addition, they emphasised that Acciona was offering a cheaper price for the water that would finally be offered to the 5 million consumers. Therefore they concluded the tender was rightly allocated. Furthermore, the contract with Acciona came into force on the 1st of January and the Spanish multinational already stated it will be expecting a compensation for damages if at the end the allocation is cancelled. Consequently, the Catalan Government appealed the TSJC’s decision, but the Catalan Court confirmed the cancellation on the 19th of July. Now, the Government is taking the issue to Spain’s Highest Court waiting for a final decision on the issue.