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Exclusive: Water treatment solutions firm Aquatech raises stake in arm

Aquatech Systems, a global water and wastewater technology provider for the industrial and infrastructure markets, has increased its stake in a subsidiary based in India, a person privy to the development told VCCircle.

The Asian unit of the US-based firm has raised its stake in Pune-based WEX Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which supplies commodity chemicals for water treatments. It had acquired a majority stake in the company in 2011.

“Aquatech has purchased shares from individual shareholders of WEX Technologies,” the person cited above said. However, he didn’t disclose the transaction details.

Dhrubo Banerjee, MD of WEX Technologies, declined to comment on the deal. An e-mail query sent to Aquatech didn’t elicit any immediate response.

WEX was promoted by Banerjee. It could not be ascertained if he sold all of his remaining stake in the latest transaction.

Several merger and acquisitions have such clauses where after three-five years, the acquirer buys out the remaining stake. The acquirer initially picks up a majority stake in a target firm, with an agreement to hike stake or complete buyout after a period.

WEX Technologies, which was launched in 2001, offers several products that include those for effluent treatment, boiler fireside treatment, boiler water treatment, cooling water treatment, sugar process chemicals, reverse osmosis treatment, etc.

It also offers services like system audit, programme selection and recommendations, application and monitoring, monthly trend reports, trouble shooting, treatment review and audit, etc. The company boasts of a 25,000 sq ft sole manufacturing facility, equipped with boilers, cooling towers and modern product handling equipment.

The company, which exports its products to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, China and Malaysia, claims to be catering to 278 clients in nearly 60 locations.

Aquatech was launched by an Indian immigrant Prem Sharma in 1981. Later, Sharma decided to build a water treatment business in Pittsburgh focused on the steel industry. However, Sharma died in 1991. But the company continued to expand to other segments, including coal wastewater and refining under the leadership of Sharma’s two sons—Venkee (CEO) and Devesh (MD).

Based in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, Aquatech has offices throughout North America and has a significant presence worldwide through subsidiaries in Europe, the Middle East, India and China. Primary product groups offered by Aquatech are raw water treatment, ion exchange, membrane processes, wastewater recycle/reuse, zero liquid discharge, industrial concentration and desalination.

Over the past 35 years, it claims to have executed more than 1,500 projects in more than 60 countries for power generation, chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, microelectronics and other industries.

The company sealed a strategic deal last month with Ecolab Inc, the parent company of Nalco Water, a global leader in industrial water treatment solutions and services. Ecolab is reported to have invested an undisclosed amount and picked up a minority stake in the firm.

With 2015 sales of $13.5 billion and 47,000 associates, Ecolab offers its solutions and on-site services to clients in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial sectors in more than 170 countries around the world.

The water treatment solutions space hasn’t seen too many deals in the recent past. Last year, South Asian Clean Energy Fund (SACEF), which is co-sponsored by Global Environment Fund and Yes Bank, had invested around $11 million in Concord Enviro Systems Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based company engaged in developing, manufacturing and installing waste water treatment and reuse systems.

Last year, public-listed firm Praj Industries Ltd had completed acquisition of water treatment firm Praj HiPurity Systems Ltd by picking remaining 20% stake for around Rs 35.7 crore ($5.4 million then) last year.

The wastewater treatment solutions market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15% in 2018, according to TechSci Research, a research-based global management consulting firm.

This is influenced by mandatory obligations for every industry to have these plants in their vicinity to treat wastewater. The Indian government is expected to make it compulsory to install effluent treatment plants in restaurants and food joints. This is likely to further expand the market for industrial waste water treatment in terms of value and volume.

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Aquatech Systems engaged in manufacturing and exporting water and waste water treatment plants and its components. Its products include pre treatment plants, filteration units, water softeners, dm plants, condensate polishing units, reverse osmosis plants, drinking water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants. The company was founded in 1998 and is based in Pune, Maharashtra.

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