NWO Website Exposes Official List of Companies Involved

The World Economic Forum

 http://www.weforum.org/world-economic-forum

  • is an International Institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation.
  • engages political, business, academic and other leaders of society in collaborative efforts to shape global, regional and industry agendas.  Together with other stakeholders, it works to define challenges, solutions and actions, always in the spirit of global citizenship.
  • serves and builds sustained communities through an integrated concept of high-level meetings, research networks, task forces and digital collaboration.
  • delivers unique value to its Partners, Members and Constituents through its Annual and Regional Meetings, its Centres dedicated to global, regional, and industry issues, its future-oriented communities of New Champions, its expert networks of Global Agenda Councils, its TopLink knowledge and interaction platform and the Forum Academy.
  • was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit Foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests, working in close cooperation with all major international organisations.
  • strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.
  • Read the Annual Report 2013 – 14 here.
Professor Klaus Schwab
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman

From our Founder 

“We live in a fast-moving, highly interconnected world, and our existing systems, structures and formal institutions no longer suffice. Pressing global problems can arise quickly and without warning. At the same time, new and unprecedented opportunities for global growth and positive change are emerging and must be harnessed for the future of humanity.

Barriers between political, economic and social issues have dissolved. The new reality of our networked society is that global, regional and industry developments are completely intertwined. Technological revolutions are changing the context for decision-making and disrupting our conventional decision-making processes.

Today, to address these issues, the world needs a level of global cooperation that is increasingly difficult to attain, precisely due to the growing complexities and interdependencies in the world.

The Forum’s experience since its foundation in 1971 shows there are few issues that cannot be adequately progressed by convening the most relevant actors from all sectors – business, government and civil society – in a high-level, informal environment of trust. Among international institutions, the Forum is an impartial platform for transforming dialogue into insights, insights into agendas, and agendas into action. This provides the practical basis for our mission: to improve the state of the world by serving as a trusted partner of all the stakeholders of global society as they embark upon transformation processes in response to the profound economic, social and political changes sweeping our world.

I encourage you to download our Institutional brochure, which explains in greater depth how we are organized as a community of communities to generate interaction, insight and impact from our activities.”

Leadership and Governance

The World Economic Forum is governed by its Foundation Board. The Foundation Board is the guardian of our mission, values and brand. It is responsible for inspiring business and public confidence in the Forum through an exemplary standard of governance. Individuals with unique leadership experience – from business, politics, academia and civil society – participate for three years in the Board’s activities. The Board’s role includes: managing the statutes of the World Economic Forum and its institutions; appointing new members; reviewing fund applications; determining and monitoring the execution of the World Economic Forum’s strategies; and defining the roles of the Managing Board and committees, including the review of strategies and activities in light of the Forum’s mission.

Foundation Board Members

  • Patrick Aebischer photo
  • Mukesh D. Ambani photo
  • Peter Brabeck-Letmathe photo
  • Mark J. Carney photo
  • Victor L. L. Chu photo
  • Orit Gadiesh photo
  • Carlos Ghosn photo
  • Herman Gref photo
  • Angel Gurría photo
  • Jim Hagemann Snabe photo
  • Susan Hockfield photo
  • Donald Kaberuka photo
  • Klaus Kleinfeld photo
  • Christine Lagarde photo
  • Peter Maurer photo
  • Luis Alberto Moreno photo
  • Indra Nooyi photo
  • H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan photo
  • Peter Sands photo
  • Joe Schoendorf photo
  • Klaus Schwab photo
  • Heizo Takenaka photo
  • George Yeo photo
  • Jack Ma Yun photo
  •  Min Zhu photo

 

The Forum’s activities are managed by its executive leadership. Led by Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab, the leadership and staff of the Forum comprise exceptional individuals from all walks of life and over 60 nationalities. This global depth and experience ensures our ability to fully support our global membership and their engagement on global issues.

Chairman

Klaus Schwab photo

Klaus Schwab

Founder, Executive Chairman

Management Committee

David Aikman photoDavid Aikman Head of New Champions
Jennifer Blanke photoJennifer Blanke Chief Economist
Espen Barth Eide photoEspen Barth Eide Head of the Centre for Global Strategies, Member of the Managing Board
Paolo Gallo photoPaolo Gallo Chief Human Resources Officer
Julien Gattoni photoJulien Gattoni Chief Financial Officer
W. Lee Howell photoW. Lee Howell Head of Global Programming, Member of the Managing Board
Jeremy Jurgens photoJeremy Jurgens Chief Information and Interaction Officer
Helena Leurent photoHelena Leurent Head of Business Engagement
Adrian Monck photoAdrian Monck Head of Public Engagement
Gilbert J. B. Probst photoGilbert J. B. Probst Dean, Leadership Office and Academic Affairs
Philipp Rösler photoPhilipp Rösler Head of the Centre for Regional Strategies, Member of the Managing Board
Richard Samans photoRichard Samans Head of the Centre for the Global Agenda,
Member of the Managing Board
Jim Hagemann Snabe photoJim Hagemann Snabe Chairman, Centre for Global Industries
Murat Sonmez photoMurat Sonmez Chief Business Officer, Member of the Managing Board
Jean-Luc Vez photoJean-Luc Vez Head of Security Policy and Security Affairs
Dominic Kailash Nath Waughray photoDominic Kailash Nath Waughray Head of Public-Private Partnerships
Alois Zwinggi photoAlois Zwinggi Head of Operations and Resources, Member of the Managing Board

 

Strategic Partners

A

Y

Z

Industry Partner Groups

Z

Regional Partners

A

  • Abdul Latif Jameel Co.,
  • Aflac Japan,
  • African Development Bank Group,
  • African Rainbow Minerals,
  • AirAsia,
  • Al Dabbagh Group,
  • Al Dahra Holding,
  • Alghanim Industries,
  • Alshaya Group,
  • Apollo Tyres Ltd,
  • averda,
  • Axiata Group Berhad,

B

  • Bajaj Auto,
  • Bank Mandiri,
  • Barclays Africa Group Limited,
  • BNP Paribas,
  • Burgan Bank,

C

  • Capital Bank,
  • Comision Federal de Electricidad,
  • Crescent Enterprises,
  • Crescent Petroleum,

D

  • Dana Gas,
  • Development Bank of Southern Africa,

E

  • Ecobank Transnational,
  • Emirates NBD,
  • European Bank for Reconstruction and Development,
  • European Investment Bank,

F

  • First Bank of Nigeria,
  • FirstRand,
  • Flour Mills of Nigeria,

G

  • Gentera,
  • GMR Group,
  • Goldcorp Inc.,
  • Greenberg Traurig,
  • Grupa Azoty,
  • Grupo Lauman,

H

  • Habboush Group,
  • Habib Bank,
  • Hikma Pharmaceuticals,
  • Hindustan Powerprojects Pvt.,

I

  • Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa,
  • Intercorp,
  • Interprotección,
  • Investec,

K

  • KIO Networks,
  • Kirin Holdings,

L

  • Lippo Group,
  • Lulu Group International,

M

  • Majid Al Futtaim Holding,
  • Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,
  • Mizuho Financial Group,
  • MMI Holdings Limited,

N

  • Naspers,
  • Nigeria LNG Limited,

O

  • Oando,
  • OAO Tatneft,
  • OHL México, S.A.B. DE C.V.,
  • OJSC “Bank Otrkritie Financial Corporation,
  • OJSC Mining&Metallurgical Company “Norilsk Nickel,
  • The Olayan Group,
  • Omnilife-Angelíssima Group,
  • Ooredoo Group,
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe,
  • Overseas Infrastructure Alliance,

P

  • PAIPED,
  • Palestine Telecommunications Company,
  • PPF a.s.,

Q

  • Qalaa Holdings

R

  • Rajesh Wadhawan Group,
  • RDIF Management Company ,
  • RGE Pte Ltd,
  • RMZ Corp.,

S

  • Samruk-Kazyna,
  • San Miguel Corporation,
  • SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad,
  • Sasol,
  • Saudi Telecom,
  • SBI Holdings,
  • Seplat Petroleum Development Company,
  • SICPA Holding,
  • Sinar Mas, Agribusiness & Food,
  • SM Investments Corporation,
  • SMFG,
  • The Standard Bank Group Limited,

T

  • Telkom,
  • Tokio Marine Holdings,
  • Transnet SOC Ltd,

U

  • United Phosphorus

V

  • Vision 3,
  • Visy Industries Pty ,
  • VPS Healthcare,

W

  • Wilmar International Limited

Y

  • YTL Corporation Berhard

Turmoil Spreads: Ruble Replunges, Crude Craters, Yen Surges, Emerging Markets Tumbling

For those wondering if the CBR’s intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes… for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74 76, and sending the Russian STOCK MARKET plummeting by over 15%.

It is so bad, US equity futures which had jumped earlier on hopes of more Chinese intervention following the latest disastrous Chinese PMI print, as well as a French manufacturing PMI beat (don’t laugh), are back to unchanged.

The latest rout continues to be driven by the relentless plunge in Brent which also continued crashing overnight to fresh 5 year lows, sliding decidedly under $60 as WTI dropped well under $55 as well. And as we previewed over a month ago, it is not just Russia, but every single petroleum exporting country that is suddenly seeing a currency crisis, and spreading to all EMs with the Indian Rupee weakening the most since 2013, Indonesia lowering the Rupiah’s reference rate by the most on record, and so on. Ironically, this happens as the USDJPY is also crashing and dropping moments ago to 116.25, the lowest level since mid-November. At this rate the Fed will have no choice but to intervene, however in the opposite direction, and admit that despite all its best intentions, the US can not decouple from the rest of the world and a rate hike – so very priced in by everyone – is just no going to happen in the coming years (which sadly means that the latest subprime debt driven “recovery” is about to be called off).

A quick look at the oil market where Brent drops for 5th day, falls below $60 for 1st time since July 7, 2009 as the market continues to look for signs that falling prices is crimping production. WTI breaks below $55, drops to lowest since May 6, 2009.  “The race to the bottom continues, we are still not seeing any signs of supply disruption,” says Saxo Bank head of commodity strategy Ole Hansen. “There is very big negative momentum in the mkt and the fact people are starting to talk about breakeven levels of $35-$40 has put up a new red flag for mkts to aim at.… Jan. WTI options expire today and there is quite a lot of open interest ~$55 put strikes, that is probably the key level of potential support today.”

Not helping things was Russia’s announcement that it too like the Saudis will not cut production: Russia agrees with OPEC that market will determine crude price, Energy Minister Alexander Novak tells reporters at meeting of Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha, Qatar. Novak says that he met with OPEC energy ministers in Vienna; “The participants of that meeting concurred that the situation will be fixed by the market itself in terms of supple and demand balance.  Russia is not a country that changes its supply. We will maintain our production unchanged.”

Looking at the Markets, first in Asia, the Nikkei 225 tumbled -2% fell for a 2nd day to breach the key psychological 17,000 level for the first time since the 17th Nov. as the JPY continued to strengthen. In China bad news was good, and the Shanghai Comp surged higher som +2.3% on renewed easing calls following disappointing Chinese data. December HSBC flash Manufacturing PMI printed a contractionary reading for the first time in 7 months (49.5 vs. Exp. 49.8 (Prev. 50.0), with both output and new orders components slipping, the latter contracting for the first time since April. Hang Seng traded down 1.55% weighed on by weakness across energy stocks.

Despite opening higher, European stocks took a turn lower in early trade, with the move to the downside led by energy names after Brent crude futures broke below USD 60/bbl pre-market and WTI broke below USD 54/bbl. Furthermore, the softness in stocks lifted European fixed income products with the Bund tripping stops through 154.73, leading the German 10yr yield to once again print record lows and slip below 0.6%. Overall global sentiment remains relatively negative with Saudi Arabian (-5.5%) and Dubai (-8%) stock indexes also placed under further pressure as the fall in oil prices continue to dent domestic profits. Furthermore, concerns were also placed on Russia as despite the Russian central bank hiking their rate by 650bps, the RUB hit record lows vs the USD and the MICEX was down as much as 7%. This then triggered fears over the ramifications for the Eurozone economy, given the close trade ties to Russia, particularly for Germany.

Nonetheless, European equities then reversed earlier losses, with the move higher led by utility and consumer discretionary names, while Russian asset classes began to stabilise. Additionally, from a data perspective, Eurozone PMIs also painted a less dreary than expected picture with the headline manufacturing and services Eurozone PMIs exceeding expectations. This was then later exacerbated by a particularly strong German ZEW survey (Expectations 34.9 vs. Exp. 20.0), which also subsequently saw Bunds pull away from their best levels.

Looking ahead, attention turns towards US housing starts, building permits, manufacturing PMI and API crude oil inventories. Most importantly, the two-day FOMC meeting begins.

Market Wrap

In Summary, European stocks rise led by carmakers after German investor expectations increased more than estimated. Shares with exposure to Russia dropped as the ruble continues its decline. Asian stocks fall as Hong Kong shares enter a correction, U.S. stock index futures gain. Brent crude oil price falls through $60 a barrel for the first time in 5 years. Euro rises against the dollar.

  • S&P 500 futures unchanged, after being up 0.5%
  • Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.7% to 325.44
  • US 10Y yield down 2bps to 2.1%
  • German 10Y yield down 1bps to 0.61%
  • MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.7% to 134.73
  • Gold spot up 0.4% to $1198.55/oz

M&A

  • Repsol Agrees to Buy Canada’s Talisman for $8.3b
  • RBS Sells Irish Property-Loans Portfolio to Cerberus
  • InterContinental to Purchase Kimpton HOTELS FOR $430m
  • Wanda Said to Be Poised to Raise $3.7b in Hong Kong IPO
  • Woodside to Pay $2.75b for Apache LNG Project Stakes
  • Olam to Buy Archer-Daniels-Midland Cocoa Unit for $1.3b

FX/BONDS

  • USDJPY down to 116.290
  • Euro up 0.5% to $1.25065
  • Dollar Index down 0.4% to 88.064
  • Italian 10Y yield up 2bps to 2.02%
  • Spanish 10Y yield up 1bps to 1.8%
  • 3m Euribor/OIS down 1bps to 9.38bps

COMMODITIES

  • S&P GSCI index down 1.7% to 434.07
  • Brent futures down 2.8% to $59.33/bbl, WTI futures down 2.6% to $54.46/bbl
  • LME 3m copper down 0.7% to $6357.25/MT
  • LME 3m nickel down 1.6% to $16192/MT
  • Wheat futures down 0.1% to $618.25/bu

Bulleting Headline Summary

  • European stocks rebound from earlier energy/Russia-inspired losses as Eurozone data helps to lift investor sentiment.
  • The USD-index trades in negative territory, with the move lower in US yields hitting the greenback and seeing EUR/USD break above 1.2500.
  • Looking ahead, attention turns towards US housing starts, building permits, manufacturing PMI and API crude oil inventories.
  • Treasuries gain as Brent crude plunges though $60/bbl for first time in five years, ruble slides to record low as investors shrug off surprise Bank of Russia decision to hike its key rate to 17% from 10.5%.
  • HSBC/Markit’s China PMI fell to 49.5 in Dec., lowest in seven months, from 50 in Nov., even after PBOC efforts to ease monetary conditions
  • Manufacturing and services in the 18-nation euro area barely expanded in December as sluggish growth in Germany and France kept business activity subdued
  • Bundesbank’s Jens Weidmann said there’s no need for the ECB to expand monetary stimulus, and argued that sovereign-debt purchases aren’t a solution even if slumping oil prices cause deflation
  • German investor confidence rose for a second month, with ZEW Center’s index rising to 34.9 in Dec. from 11.5 in Nov.
  • U.K. inflation fell to 1% in Nov., lowest in more than a decade, as tumbling oil prices pushed down transport costs and food prices dropped; U.K. 30Y yields fell below 2.5% for the first time on record
  • Sweden’s central bank kept its main interest rate at zero and said it’s preparing more measures to jolt the largest Nordic economy out of a deflationary spiral
  • Norway’s krone dropped to parity with Sweden for the first time since 2000
  • Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the selloff in emerging markets may worsen, posing the risk of higher borrowing costs and weaker growth in core markets
  • China’s U.S. Treasury holdings fell to a 20-month low in October, as yuan appreciation indicated less of an impetus to buy the government securities
  • Pakistan militants killed 84 children after storming an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, one of the country’s worst terrorist attacks in years
  • Sovereign yields mostly lower. Nikkei falls 2% as most Asian equity indexes fall; Shanghai +2.3%. European stocks mostly higher, U.S. equity-index futures gain. Brent crude falls 3%, trades below $60/bbl level; copper falls, gold gains

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Housing Starts, Nov., est. 1.040m (prior 1.009m)
  • Housing Starts m/m, Nov., est. 3.1% (prior -2.8%)
  • Building Permits, Nov., est. 1.065m (prior 1.080m,  revised 1.092m)
  • Building Permits m/m, Nov., est. -2.5% (prior 4.8%, prior 5.9%)
  • 9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, Dec. preliminary, est. 55.2 (prior 54.8)

Central Banks

  • FOMC two-day meeting begins in Washington Supply

FX

The main focus has been on the RUB as despite the Russian central bank hiking their key rate by 650bps, USD/RUB has erased its opening losses, with RUB printing a record lows vs. USD and breaking above the 66.00 handle. Allied to this, the USD-index has weakened throughout the morning and made a technical break below 88.00 alongside the move lower in US yields as USTs benefited from a flight to quality. This has also benefited JPY and CHF in a safe-haven Bid, while EUR/USD broke above 1.2500 for the 1st time since 1st Dec. UK inflation data came in at 1.0% vs. Exp. 1.2% and printed its lowest reading since 2002. This subsequently saw a fast-money move lower in GBP/USD of around 46 pips. However, this move to the downside was later reversed, as market participants focused on the fact these numbers do not change the course of BoE action. Finally, the SEK has also weakened throughout the session after the Riksbank this morning kept their key rate on hold at 0.0% as expected but warned the repo rate needs to remain at zero for longer than initially forecast and are preparing further measures that can be used to make monetary policy more expansionary. This has also weighed on neighbouring currency NOK, which also falling victim to the slide in oil prices.

COMMODITIES

In the commodity complex, energy prices have once again been a key focus after Brent crude futures broke below USD 60/bbl pre-market and WTI broke below USD 54/bbl. This has been a continuation of the bearish rhetoric we’ve seen for the sector following comments yesterday from the UAE oil minister who said OPEC stands by their decision not to cut output even if oil prices fall as low as USD 40/bbl and will wait at least three months before considering an emergency meeting, while Saudi reiterated they have no plans to cut output. In metals markets, precious metals have been granted some reprieve with spot gold breaking above USD 1,200 following the cautious sentiment throughout the session while copper has remained under pressure following lacklustre Chinese HSBC manufacturing data and comments from Deutsche Bank who said the copper market is moving into surplus and the lagged effects of the weaker Chinese property market will hit copper demand.

* * *

DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight recap

We were expecting difficult times before tighter spreads in 2015 but this is already proving to be such a tough December that 2015’s returns across many asset classes are going to be influenced by where we end the year.

For example, as recently as December 5th many equity markets were trading at YTD or multi month highs. 6 business days later and the turmoil is being seen in Greece, Russia, Oil, many areas of EM and in DM equity and credit markets. In Europe virtually all equity markets are comfortably down for the year now. Some markets have lost a few years of normal sized returns in the last few days alone so this has to impact 2015.

Given the mini turmoil, we will truly learn a lot about the Fed tomorrow night as if they become more hawkish we can see that they’re comfortable that financial markets are not the primary concern. If they end up being dovish then it’s probably a sign that they will struggle to have the confidence to upset markets in 2015 and will only raise rates if both the economy merits it and markets are calm. As we state in the outlook we think they will struggle to raise rates but this might not stop them from signalling an intention to do so in advance. So definitely more volatility than the QE3 period we’ve now left far behind.

Oil continues to dominate headlines with further sharp declines yesterday, extending the 5-year lows and pairing an earlier rally. Indeed both WTI (-3.29%) and Brent (-1.28%) declined to $55.91/bbl and $61.06/bbl and have continued to trade some 0.5-0.6% lower overnight. The oil-sensitive Russian Rouble continues to suffer and yesterday it closed 10.22% lower versus the Dollar at 64.24. The move marked the biggest one-day decline since 1998 taking the year to date decline to nearly 96%. The move appears to have sparked the nation’s Central Bank into action who, post the U.S. close, raised benchmark interest rates by 650bps to 17%. The rate rise marks the sixth hike this year and comes just five days since the last rate move with the Central Bank stating that ‘the decision was driven by the need to limit the risks of devaluation and inflation, which have recently significantly increased’. The move also corresponds with an expansion in foreign currency repo auctions of $3.5bn to $5bn as well as further statements from the Central Bank that GDP may shrink 4.5% to 4.7% next year should oil prices average $60/bbl. The MICEX closed 2.38% lower yesterday and 10y benchmark local government bond yields finished 20bps wider at 13.02%. Expect big moves again this morning. The Russian central bank will no doubt be hoping they can repeat the success of the Turkish central bank earlier this year where they raised rates from 7.75% to 12%. If the new rate is sustained for any length of time it will surely have huge implications for the economy though so it’s certainly high risk. Ironically when Russia collapsed in 1998, the Fed slashed rates and arguably started the era of ‘moral hazard’. So it’ll be interesting if the Fed choose to ignore international events this time round. I suspect they’ll find it tough.

Returning to markets, in the US the S&P 500 closed 0.63% lower at the close after a volatile day which saw a near 2% intraday range. Energy stocks continued to weigh on the overall index with the component declining 0.71% although in reality all sectors finished weaker. Credit markets softened, CDX IG closing 2bps and CDX HY around half a point lower and spreads on US HY energy names widening a further 18bps. Pressure on smaller oil and gas producers continues with US-based Apache reporting yesterday that it has agreed to sell its stake in a natural gas project whilst the Canadian oil and gas company Talisman Energy confirmed it’s in talks with various targets over a potential sale of the company.

Macro data was perhaps a bright spot in an otherwise weaker day. An initially weaker December NY Fed manufacturing reading (-3.58 vs. +12.4 expected) was followed up by a stronger November industrial production (+1.3% vs. +0.7% expected) print and capacity utilization (80.1% vs. 79.4%) reading. On the firmer industrial production print in particular, the reading was the highest since May 2010 and our US colleagues note that at its current level, production is growing at a near 8% annualized rate relative to its Q3 average, supporting the case for a strong Q4 GDP number. Just rounding off the data prints in the US yesterday, the NAHB housing market notched down slightly to 57 for December. Treasuries took something of a back seat, the yield on the 10y benchmark bouncing off Friday’s lows to close 1.8bps higher at 2.118%.

Closer to home and with a lack of data releases, risk assets took a sharp leg lower in Europe with the Stoxx 600 closing 2.08% lower – with similar weakness in energy names (-2.95%) – the index now 1.5% in negative territory YTD. There was similar weakness in credit markets with Xover finishing 19bps wider. Whilst core yields closed largely unchanged, supportive comments from ECB officials Visco and Nowotny helped support peripheral bonds with 10y benchmark yields in Spain (-9.1bps), Italy (-6.8bps) and Portugal (-5.6bps) all closing tighter at 1.789%, 1.996% and 2.916% respectively. Recapping the comments, the ECB’s Visco commented in Rome that the central bank could begin large-scale asset purchases ‘rather quickly’ if deflation risks continue citing the threat from oil price declines. This was followed up by Austria’s central bank governor Nowotny who stated that any further QE measures would be the ‘prospect of missing our target on price stability in the longer term’. One of the ECB’s preferred measure of inflation expectations – the EUR 5y5y inflation swap rate – extended declines to close at 1.67% yesterday and mark a 10-year low. With chatter around further ECB broad-based asset purchases likely to attract more headlines in the new-year, a Bloomberg survey yesterday showed that 90% of respondents expect sovereign QE in 2015 from 57% last month.

Interestingly with the large sell off in risk assets in Europe yesterday, Greek equities closed firmer ahead of tomorrow’s election with the ASE ending +1.45% stronger at the end of play. Greek government bonds also recovered somewhat with 3y and 5y yields tightening 87bps and 34bps respectively. DB’s resident expert George Saravelos noted that there is little change in terms of current government support ahead of tomorrow’s first-round presidential election (due 5.00pm GMT) with initial ‘bean-count’ estimates still below the 180 votes required for the final vote.

Turning our attention over to markets this morning, following the disturbing scenes in Sydney yesterday, the ASX 200 is -0.65% and AUD is holding in at 0.82 to the Dollar. With the exception of China, equities are weaker in Asia this morning with the Nikkei, Hang Seng and KOSPI -1.85%, -1.40% and -0.83% respectively. The CSI 300 (+1.03%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.85%) have strengthened despite a weak flash HSBC manufacturing PMI print. The 49.5 reading for December is below the 49.8 consensus and down from 50 last month with the print the first below 50 since May.

Looking ahead to today’s calendar and away from the start of the FOMC meeting, we kick this morning off in Europe with the flash manufacturing and services PMI prints for the Eurozone as well as regionally for both France and Germany. Elsewhere we’ll keep an eye on the BoE statement on the financial stability report due out this morning with Carney speaking shortly after, as well as UK inflation data. We round off the key releases this morning with the ZEW survey out of Germany. Across the Atlantic this afternoon we’ve got housing data to keep an eye on with both building and November housing starts due. This is followed up later in the US with the flash manufacturing PMI print.

Average:

Just What Is China Buying?

Something strange is going on in China. On one hand, as the chart below shows, China’s trade surplus is growing and growing, and just hit record highs. In other words, China is – on paper – receiving record amounts of foreign currencies in exchange for its (mostly) goods exports.

That much is clear in the Chinese (record) trade balance chart below:

 

Yet on the other hand, a chart from Deutsche Bank shows something very peculiar: even as China’s foreign reserves should be rising, they are not only dropping, but just suffered their biggest quarterly drop in the past decade!

 

This validates what the TIC data has shown recently, namely that China has not only not been adding to US Treasury but reduced its TSY holdings to the lowest since February 2013, and that contrary to what some have alleged, China is not using Belgium as an offshore-based conduit for Treasury accumulation.

 

A bigger question is just what is China buying “off the books” to account for this reserve decline, amounting to about $100 billion in Q3, or is this merely due to even more off the books “capital flight” as some has speculated. Or is China indeed actively buying commodities – either as shown here previously for Commodity Funding Deals involving goldor in physical bulk, perhaps to quietly fill up its new Strategic Petroleum Reserve (see “Record Oil Tankers Sailing to China Amid Stockpiling Signs“) – and bypassing the official ledger in doing so. If so, which commodities is China buying, and how big will the foreign reserve plunge be in the fourth quarter.

For the answer to the latter we will check back in a little over a month when the “official” data is released. As for the former, one can only speculate.

Average:

The New “Water Barons”: Wall Street Mega-Banks are Buying up the World’s Water

water-fluoridation-1

This article was first published on December 21, 2012

A disturbing trend in the water sector is accelerating worldwide. The new “water barons” — the Wall Street banks and elitist multibillionaires — are buying up water all over the world at unprecedented pace.

Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water. Wealthy tycoons such as T. Boone Pickens, former President George H.W. Bush and his family, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, Philippines’ Manuel V. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, and others are also buying thousands of acres of land with aquifers, lakes, water rights, water utilities, and shares in water engineering and technology companies all over the world.

The second disturbing trend is that while the new water barons are buying up water all over the world, governments are moving fast to limit citizens’ ability to become water self-sufficient (as evidenced by the well-publicized Gary Harrington’s case in Oregon, in which the state criminalized the collection of rainwater in three ponds located on his private land, by convicting him on nine counts and sentencing him for 30 days in jail). Let’s put this criminalization in perspective:

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens owned more water rights than any other individuals in America, with rights over enough of the Ogallala Aquifer to drain approximately 200,000 acre-feet (or 65 billion gallons of water) a year. But ordinary citizen Gary Harrington cannot collect rainwater runoff on 170 acres of his private land.

It’s a strange New World Order in which multibillionaires and elitist banks can own aquifers and lakes, but ordinary citizens cannot even collect rainwater and snow runoff in their own backyards and private lands.

“Water is the oil of the 21st century.” Andrew Liveris, CEO of DOW Chemical Company (quoted in The Economist magazine, August 21, 2008)

In 2008, I wrote an article,

“Why Big Banks May Be Buying up Your Public Water System,” in which I detailed how both mainstream and alternative media coverage on water has tended to focus on individual corporations and super-investors seeking to control water by buying up water rights and water utilities. But paradoxically the hidden story is a far more complicated one. I argued that the real story of the global water sector is a convoluted one involving “interlocking globalized capital”: Wall Street and global investment firms, banks, and other elite private-equity firms — often transcending national boundaries to partner with each other, with banks and hedge funds, with technology corporations and insurance giants, with regional public-sector pension funds, and with sovereign wealth funds — are moving rapidly into the water sector to buy up not only water rights and water-treatment technologies, but also to privatize public water utilities and infrastructure.

Now, in 2012, we are seeing this trend of global consolidation of water by elite banks and tycoons accelerating. In a JP Morgan equity research document, it states clearly that “Wall Street appears well aware of the investment opportunities in water supply infrastructure, wastewater treatment, and demand management technologies.” Indeed, Wall Street is preparing to cash in on the global water grab in the coming decades. For example, Goldman Sachs has amassed more than $10 billion since 2006 for infrastructure investments, which include water. A 2008 New York Times article mentioned Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and the Carlyle Group, to have “amassed an estimated an estimated $250 billion war chest — must of it raised in the last two years — to finance a tidal wave of infrastructure projects in the United States and overseas.”

By “water,” I mean that it includes water rights (i.e., the right to tap groundwater, aquifers, and rivers), land with bodies of water on it or under it (i.e., lakes, ponds, and natural springs on the surface, or groundwater underneath), desalination projects, water-purification and treatment technologies (e.g., desalination, treatment chemicals and equipment), irrigation and well-drilling technologies, water and sanitation services and utilities, water infrastructure maintenance and construction (from pipes and distribution to all scales of treatment plants for residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal uses), water engineering services (e.g., those involved in the design and construction of water-related facilities), and retail water sector (such as those involved in the production, operation, and sales of bottled water, water vending machines, bottled water subscription and delivery services, water trucks, and water tankers).

Update of My 2008 Article: Mega-Banks See Water as a Critical Commodity

Since 2008, many giant banks and super-investors are capturing more market share in the water sector and identifying water as a critical commodity, much hotter than petroleum.

Goldman Sachs: Water Is Still the Next Petroleum

In 2008, Goldman Sachs called water “the petroleum for the next century” and those investors who know how to play the infrastructure boom will reap huge rewards, during its annual “Top Five Risks” conference. Water is a U.S.$425 billion industry, and a calamitous water shortage could be a more serious threat to humanity in the 21st century than food and energy shortages, according to Goldman Sachs’s conference panel. Goldman Sachs has convened numerous conferences and also published lengthy, insightful analyses of water and other critical sectors (food, energy).

Goldman Sachs is positioning itself to gobble up water utilities, water engineering companies, and water resources worldwide. Since 2006, Goldman Sachs has become one of the largest infrastructure investment fund managers and has amassed a $10 billion capital for infrastructure, including water.

In March 2012, Goldman Sachs was eyeing Veolia’s UK water utility business, estimated at £1.2 billion, and in July it successfully bought Veolia Water, which serves 3.5 million people in southeastern England.

Previously, in September 2003, Goldman Sachs partnered with one of the world’s largest private-equity firm Blackstone Group and Apollo Management to acquire Ondeo Nalco (a leading company in providing water-treatment and process chemicals and services, with more than 10,000 employees and operations in 130 countries) from French water corporation Suez S.A. for U.S.$4.2 billion.

In October 2007, Goldman Sachs teamed up with Deutsche Bank and several partners to bid, unsuccessfully, for U.K.’s Southern Water. In November 2007, Goldman Sachs was also unsuccessful in bidding for U.K. water utility Kelda. But Goldman Sachs is still looking to buy other water utilities.

In January 2008, Goldman Sachs led a team of funds (including Liberty Harbor Master Fund and the Pinnacle Fund) to buy U.S.$50 million of convertible notes in China Water and Drinks Inc., which supplies purified water to name-brand vendors like Coca-Cola and Taiwan’s top beverage company Uni-President. China Water and Drinks is also a leading producer and distributor of bottled water in China and also makes private-labeled bottled water (e.g., for Sands Casino, Macau). Since China has one of the worse water problems in Asia and a large emerging middle class, its bottled-water sector is the fastest-growing in the world and it’s seeing enormous profits. Additionally, China’s acute water shortages and serious pollution could “buoy demand for clean water for years to come, with China’s $14.2 billion water industry a long-term investment destination” (Reuters, January 28, 2008).

The City of Reno, Nevada, was approached by Goldman Sachs for “a long-term asset leasing that could potentially generate significant cash for the three TMWA [Truckee Meadows Water Authority] entities. The program would allow TMWA to lease its assets for 50 years and receive an up-front cash payment” (Reno News & Review, August 28, 2008). Essentially, Goldman Sachs wants to privatize Reno’s water utility for 50 years. Given Reno’s revenue shortfall, this proposal was financially attractive. But the water board eventually rejected the proposal due to strong public opposition and outcry.

Citigroup: The Water Market Will Soon Eclipse Oil, Agriculture, and Precious Metals

Citigroup’s top economist Willem Buitler said in 2011 that the water market will soon be hotter the oil market (for example, see this and this):

“Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.”

In its recent 2012 Water Investment Conference, Citigroup has identified top 10 trends in the water sector, as follows:

1. Desalination systems
2. Water reuse technologies
3. Produced water / water utilities
4. Membranes for filtration
5. Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection
6. Ballast-water treatment technologies
7. Forward osmosis used in desalination
8. Water-efficiency technologies and products
9. Point-of-use treatment systems
10. Chinese competitors in water

Specifically, a lucrative opportunity in water is in hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), as it generates massive demand for water and water services. Each oil well developed requires 3 to 5 million gallons of water, and 80% of this water cannot be reused because it’s three to 10 times saltier than seawater. Citigroup recommends water-rights owners sell water to fracking companies instead of to farmers because water for fracking can be sold for as much as $3,000 per acre-foot instead of only $50 per acre/foot to farmers.

The ballast-water treatment sector, currently at $1.35 billion annually, is estimated to reach $30 to $50 billion soon. The water-filtration market is expected to outgrow the water-equipment market: Dow estimates it to be a $5 billion market annually instead of only $1 billion now.

Citigroup is aggressively raising funds for its war chest to participate in the coming tidal wave of infrastructure privatization: in 2007 it established a new unit called Citi Infrastructure Investors through its Citi Alternative Investments unit. According to Reuters, Citigroup “assembled some of the biggest names in the infrastructure business at the same time it is building a $3 billion fund, including $500 million of its own capital. The fund, according to a person familiar with the situation, will have only a handful of outside investors and will be focused on assets in developed markets” (May 16, 2007). Citigroup initially sought only U.S.$3 billion for its first infrastructure fund but was seeking U.S.$5 billion in April 2008 (Bloomberg, April 7, 2008).

Citigroup partnered with HSBC Bank, Prudential, and other minor partners to acquire U.K.’s water utility Kelda (Yorkshire Water) in November 2007. This week, Citigroup signed a 99-year lease with the City of Chicago for Chicago’s Midway Airport (it partnered with John Hancock Life Insurance Company and a Canadian private airport operator). Insiders said that Citigroup is among those bidding for the state-owned company Letiste Praha which operates the Prague Airport in the Czech Republic (Bloomberg, February 7, 2008).

As the five U.K. water utility deals illustrate, typically no one single investment bank or private-equity fund owns the entire infrastructure project — they partner with many others. The Citigroup is now entering India’s massive infrastructure market by partnering the Blackstone Group and two Indian private finance companies; they have launched a U.S.$5 billion fund in February 2007, with three entities (Citi, Blackstone, and IDFC) jointly investing U.S.$250 million. India requires about U.S.$320 billion in infrastructure investments in the next five years (The Financial Express, February 16, 2007).

UBS: Water Scarcity Is the Defining Crisis of the 21st Century

In 2006, UBS Investment Research, a division of Switzerland-based UBS AG, Europe’s largest bank by assets, entitled its 40-page research report, “Q-Series®:Water”—“Water scarcity: The defining crisis of the 21st century?” (October 10, 2006) In 2007, UBS, along with JP Morgan and Australia’s Challenger Fund, bought UK’s Southern Water for £4.2biillion.

Credit Suisse: Water Is the “Paramount Megatrend of Our Time”

Credit Suisse published its report about Credit Suisse Water Index (January 21, 2008) urged investors that “One way to take advantage of this trend is to invest in companies geared to water generation, preservation, infrastructure treatment and desalination. The Index enables investors to participate in the performance of the most attractive companies….” The trend in question, according to Credit Suisse, is the “depletion of freshwater reserves” attributable to “pollution, disappearance of glaciers (the main source of freshwater reserves), and population growth, water is likely to become a scarce resource.”

Credit Suisse recognizes water to be the “paramount megatrend of our time” because of a water-supply crisis might cause “severe societal risk” in the next 10 years and that two-thirds of the world’s population are likely to live under water-stressed conditions by 2025. To address water shortages, it has identified desalination and wastewater treatment as the two most important technologies. Three sectors for good investments include the following:

§ Membranes for desalination and wastewater treatment
§ Water infrastructure — corrosion resistance, pipes, valves, and pumps
§ Chemicals for water treatment

It also created the Credit Suisse Water Index which has the equally weighed index of 30 stocks out of 128 global water stocks. For investors, it offered “Credit Suisse PL100 World Water Trust (PL100 World Water),” launched in June 2007, with $112.9 million.

Credit Suisse partnered with General Electric (GE Infrastructure) in May 2006 to establish a U.S.$1 billion joint venture to profit from privatization and investments in global infrastructure assets. Each partner will commit U.S.$500 million to target electricity generation and transmission, gas storage and pipelines, water facilities, airports, air traffic control, ports, railroads, and toll roads worldwide. This joint venture has estimated that the developed market’s infrastructure opportunities are at U.S.$500 billion, and emerging world’s infrastructure market is U.S.$1 trillion in the next five years (Credit Suisse’s press release, May 31, 2006).

In October 2007, Credit Suisse partnered with Cleantech Group (a Michigan-based market-research, consulting, media, and executive-search firm that operates cleantech forums) and Consensus Business Group (a London-based equity firm owned by U.K. billionaire Vincent Tchenguiz) to invest in clean technologies worldwide. The technologies will also clean water technologies.

During its Asian Investment Conference, it said that “Water is a focus for those in the know about global strategic commodities. As with oil, the supply is finite but demand is growing by leaps and unlike oil there is no alternative.” (Credit Suisse, February 4, 2008). Credit Suisse sees the global water market with U.S.$190 billion in revenue in 2005 and was expected to grow to U.S.$342 billion by 2010. It sees most significant growth opportunities in China.

JPMorgan Chase: Build Infrastructure War Chests to Buy Water, Utilities, and Public Infrastructure Worldwide

One of the world’s largest banks, JPMorgan Chase has aggressively pursued water and infrastructure worldwide. In October 2007, it beat out rivals Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to buy U.K.’s water utility Southern Water with partners Swiss-based UBS and Australia’s Challenger Infrastructure Fund. This banking empire is controlled by the Rockefeller family; the family patriarch David Rockefeller is a member of the elite and secretive Bilderberg Group, Council on Foreign Relations, and Trilateral Commission.

JPMorgan sees infrastructure finance as a global phenomenon, and it is joined by its global peers in investment and banking institution in their rush to cash in on water and infrastructure. JPMorgan’s own analysts estimate that the emerging markets’ infrastructure is approximately U.S.$21.7 trillion over the next decade.

JPMorgan created a U.S.$2 billion infrastructure fund to go after India’s infrastructure projects in October 2007. The targeted projects are transportation (roads, bridges, railroads) and utilities (gas, electricity, water). India’s finance minister has been estimated that India requires about U.S.$500 billion in infrastructure investments by 2012. In this regard, JPMorgan is joined by Citigroup, the Blackstone Group, 3i Group (Europe’s second-largest private-equity firm), and ICICI Bank (India’s second-largest bank) (International Herald Tribune, October 31, 2007). Its JPMorgan Asset Management has also established an Asian Infrastructure & Related Resources Opportunity Fund which held a first close on U.S.$500 million (€333 million) and will focus on China, India, and other Southern Asian countries, with the first two investments in China and India (Private Equity Online, August 11, 2008). The fund’s target is U.S.$1.5 billion.

JPMorgan’s Global Equity Research division also published a 60-page report called “Watch water: A guide to evaluating corporate risks in a thirsty world” (April 1, 2008).

In 2010, J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Water Asset Management led a $275 million buyout bid for SouthWest Water.

Allianz Group: Water Is Underpriced and Undervalued

Founded in 1890, Germany’s Allianz Group is one of the leading global services providers in insurance, banking, and asset management in about 70 countries. In April 2008, Allianz SE launched the Allianz RCM Global Water Fund which invests in equity securities of water-related companies worldwide, emphasizing long-term capital appreciation. Alliance launched its Global EcoTrends Fund in February 2007 (Business Wire, February 7, 2007).

Allianz SE’s Dresdner Bank AG told its investors that “Investments in water offer opportunities: Rising oil prices obscure our view of an even more serious scarcity: water. The global water economy is faced with a multi-billion dollar need for capital expenditure and modernization. Dresdner Bank sees this as offering attractive opportunities for returns for investors with a long-term investment horizon.” (Frankfurt, August 14, 2008)

Like Goldman Sachs, Allianz has the philosophy that water is underpriced. A co-manager of the Water Fund in Frankfurt, said, “A key issue of water is that the true value of water is not recognized. …Water tends to be undervalued around the world. …Perhaps that is one of the reasons why there are so many places with a lack of supply due to a lack of investment. With that in mind, it makes sense to invest in companies that are engaged in improving water quality and infrastructure.” Allianz sees two key investment drivers in water: (1) upgrading the aging infrastructure in the developed world; and (2) new urbanization and industrialization in developing countries such as China and India.

Barclays PLC: Water Index Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds

Barclays PLC is a U.K.-based major global financial services provider operating in all over the world with roots in London since 1690; it operates through its subsidiary Barclays Bank PLC and its investment bank called Barclays Capital.

Barclays Bank’s unit Barclays Global Investors manages an exchange-traded fund (ETF) called iShares S&P Global Water, which is listed on the London Stock Exchanges and can be purchased like any ordinary share through a broker. Touting the iShares S&P Global Water as offering “a broad based exposure to shares of the world’s largest water companies, including water utilities and water equipment stocks” of water companies around the world, this fund as of March 31, 2007 was valued at U.S.$33.8 million.

Barclays also have a climate index fund: launched on January 16, 2008, SAM Indexes GmbH licensed its Dow Jones Sustainability Index to Barclays Capital for investors in Germany and Switzerland. Many other banks also have a climate index or sustainability index.

In October 2007, Barclays Capital also partnered with Protected Distribution Limited (PDL) to launch a new water investment fund (with expected annual returns of 9% to 11%) called Protected Water Fund. This new fund, listed in the Isle of Man, requires a minimum of £10,000 and is structured as a 10-year investment with Barclays Bank providing 100% of capital protection until maturity on October 11, 2017. The Protected Water Fund will be invested in some of the world’s largest water companies; its investment decisions will be made based on an index created by Barclays Capital, the Barclays World Water Strategy, which charts the performance of some of the world’s largest water-related stocks (Investment Week and Reuters, October 11, 2007; Business Week, October 15, 2007).

Deutsche Bank’s €2 Billion Investment in European Infrastructure: “Megatrend” in Water, Climate, Infrastructure, and Agribusiness Investments

Deutsche Bank is one of the major players in the water sector worldwide. Its Deutsche Bank Advisors have identified water as a part of the climate investment strategies. In its presentation, “Global Warming: Implications for Investors,” they have identified the four following major areas for water investment:

§ Distribution and management: (1) Supply and recycling, (2) water distribution and sewage, (3) water management and engineering.
§ Water purification: (1) Sewage purification, (2) disinfection, (3) desalination, (4) monitoring.
§ Water efficiency (demand): (1) Home installation, (2) gray-water recycling, (3) water meters.
§ Water and nutrition: (1) Irrigation, (2) bottled water.

In addition to water, the other two new resources identified were agribusiness (e.g., pesticides, genetically modified seeds, mineral fertilizers, agricultural machinery) and renewable energies (e.g., solar, wind, hydrothermal, biomass, hydroelectricity).

The Deutsche Bank has established an investment fund of up to €2 billion in European infrastructure assets using its Structured Capital Markets Group (SCM), part of the bank’s Global Markets division. The bank already has several “highly attractive infrastructure assets,” including East Surrey Holdings, the owner of U.K.’s water utility Sutton & East Surrey Water (Deutsche Bank press release, September 22, 2006).

Moreover, Deutsche Bank has channeled €6 billion (U.S.$8.55 billion) into climate change funds, which will target companies with products that cut greenhouse gases or help people adapt to a warmer world, in sectors from agriculture to power and construction (Reuters, October 18, 2007).

In addition to SCM, Deutsche Bank also has the RREEF Infrastructure, part of RREEF Alternative Investments, headquartered in New York with main hubs in Sydney, Singapore, and London. RREEF Infrastructure has more than €6.7 billion in assets under management. One of its main targets is utilities, including electricity networks, water-treatment or distribution operations, and natural-gas networks. In October 2007, RREEF partnered with Goldman Sachs, GE, Prudential, and Babcok & Brown Ltd. to bid unsuccessfully for U.K.’s water utility Southern Water.

§ Crediting the boom in European infrastructure investment, the RREEF fund by August 2007 had raised €2 billion (U.S.$2.8 billion); Europe’s infrastructure market is valued at between U.S.$4 trillion to U.S.$6 trillion (DowJones Financial News Online, August 7, 2007).

§ Bulgaria — Deutsche Bank Bulgaria is planning to participate in large infrastructure projects, including public-private partnership projects in water and sewage worth up to €1 billion (Sofia Echo Media, February 26, 2008).

§ Middle East — Along with Ithmaar Bank B.S.C. (an private-equity investment bank in Bahrain), Deutsche Bank co-managed a U.S.$2 billion Shari’a-compliant Infrastructure and Growth Capital Fund and plans to target U.S.$630 billion in regional infrastructure.

Deutsche Bank AG is co-owner of Aqueduct Capital (UK) Limited which in 2006 offered to buy U.K.’s sixth-largest water utility Sutton and East Surrey Water plc from British tycoon Guy Hand. According to an OFWAT consultation paper (May 2007), Deutsche Bank formed this new entity, Aqueduct Capital (short for ACUK), in October 2005, with two public pension funds in Canada, Singapore’s life insurance giant, and a Canadian province’s investment fund, among others. This case, again, is an illustration of the complex nature of ownership of water utilities today, with various types of institutions crossing national boundaries to partner with each other to hold a stake in the water sector. With its impressive war chest dedicated to water, food, and infrastructure, Deutsche Bank is expected to become a major player in the global water sector.

Other Mega-Banks Eyeing Water as Hot Investment

Merrill Lynch (before being bought by Bank of America) issued a 24-page research report titled “Water scarcity; a bigger problem than assumed” (December 6, 2007). ML said that water scarcity is “not limited to arid climates.”

Morgan Stanley in its publication, “Emerging Markets Infrastructure: Just Getting Started” (April 2008) recommends three areas of investment opportunities in water: water utilities, global operators (such as Veolia Environment), and technology companies (such as those that manufacture membranes and chemicals used in water treatment to the water industry).

Mutual Funds and Hedge Funds Join the Action in Water

Water investment funds are on the rise, such as these four well-known water-focused mutual funds:

1. Calvert Global Water Fund (CFWAX) — $42 million in assets as of 2010, which holds 30% of its assets in water utilities, 40% in infrastructure companies, and 30% in water technologies. Also between 65% to 70% of the water stocks derived more than 50% of their revenue from water-related activities.
2. Allianz RCM Global Water Fund (AWTAX) — $54 million assets as of 2010, most of it invested in water utilities.
3. PFW Water Fund (PFWAX) — $17 million in assets as of 2010, with a minimum investment of $2,500, with 80% invested in water-related companies….
4. Kinetics Water Infrastructure Advantaged Fund (KWIAX) — $26 million in assets as of 2010, with a minimum investment of $2,500.

This is a brief list of water-centered hedge funds:

§ Master Water Equity Fund — Summit Global AM (United States)
§ Water Partners Fund — Aqua Terra AM (United States)
§ The Water Fund — Terrapin AM (United States)
§ The Reservoir Fund — Water AM (United States)
§ The Oasis Fund — Perella Weinberg AM (United States)
§ Signina Water Fund — Signina Capital AG (Switzerland)
§ MFS Water Fund of Funds — MFS Aqua AM (Australia)
§ Triton Water Fund of Funds — FourWinds CM (United States)
§ Water Edge Fund of Funds — Parker Global Strategies LLC (United States)

Other banks have launched water-targeted investment funds. Several well-known specialized water funds include Pictet Water Fund, SAM Sustainable Water Fund, Sarasin Sustainable Water Fund, Swisscanto Equity Fund Water, and Tareno Waterfund. Several structured water products offered by major investment banks include ABN Amro Water Stocks Index Certificate, BKB Water Basket, ZKB Sustainable Basket Water, Wagelin Water Shares Certificate, UBS Water Strategy Certificate, and Certificate on Vontobel Water Index. There are also several water indexes and index funds, as follows:

Credit Suisse Water Index
HSBC Water, Waste, and Pollution Control Index
Merrill Lynch China Water Index
S&P Global Water Index
First Trust ISE Water Index Fund (FIW)
International Securities Exchange’s ISE-B&S Water Index

The following is a small sample of other water funds and certificates (not exhaustive of the current range of diverse water products available):

Allianz RCM Global EcoTrends Fund
Allianz RCM Global Water Fund
UBS Water Strategy Certificate—it has a managed basket of 25 international stocks
Summit Water Equity Fund
Maxxwater Global Water Fund
Claymore S&P Global Water ETF (CGW)
Barclays Global Investors’ iShares S&P Global Water
Barclays and PDL’s Protected Water Fund based on Barclays World Water Strategy
Invesco’s PowerShares Water Resources Portfolio ETF (PHO)
Invesco’s PowerShares Global Water (PIO)
Pictet Asset Management’s Pictet Water Fund and Pictet Water Opportunities Fund
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s Water Growth Deposit Notes
Criterion Investments Limited’s Criterion Water Infrastructure Fund

One often-heard reason for the investment banks’ rush to control of water is that “Utilities are viewed as relatively safe assets in an economic downturn so [they] are more isolated than most from the global credit crunch, initially sparked by concerns over U.S. subprime mortgages” (Reuters, October 9, 2007). A London-based analyst at HSBC Securities told Bloomberg News that water is a good investment because “You’re buying something that’s inflation proof and there’s no threat to earnings really. It’s very stable and you can sell it any time you want” (Bloomberg, October 8, 2007).

More Pension Funds Investing in Water

Many pension funds have entered the water sector as a relatively safe sector for investment. For example, BT Pension Scheme (of British Telecom plc) has bought stakes in Thames Water in 2012, while Canadian pension funds CDPQ (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages public pension funds in Québec) and CPPIB (Canada Pension Plan Investment Board) have acquired England’s South East Water and Anglian Water, respectively, as reported by Reuters this year.

Sovereign Wealth Investment Funds Jumping into Water

In January 2012, China Investment Corporation has bought 8.68% stakes in Thames Water, the largest water utility in England, which serves parts of the Greater London area, Thames Valley, and Surrey, among other areas.

In November 2012, One of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), also purchased 9.9% stake in Thames Water.

Billionaires Sucking up Water Globally: George H.W. Bush and Family, Li Ka-shing, the Filipino Billionaires, and Others

Not only are the mega-banks investing heavily in water, the multibillionaire tycoons are also buying water.

Update on Hong Kong Multibillionaire Li Ka-shing’s Water Acquisition

In summer 2011, the Hong Kong multibillionaire tycoon Li Ka-shing who owns Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI), bought Northumbrian Water, which serves 2.6 million people in northeastern England, for $3.9 billion (see this and this).

CKI also sold Cambridge Water for £74 million to HSBC in 2011. Not satisfied with controlling the water sector, in 2010, CKI with a consortium bought EDF’s power networks in UK for £5.8 billion.

Li is now also collaborating with Samsung on investing in water treatment.

Warren Buffet Buys Nalco, a Chemical Maker and Water Process Technology Company

Through his Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet is the largest institutional investor of Nalco Holding Co. (NLC), a subsidiary of Ecolab, with 9 million shares. Nalco was named 2012 Water Technology Company of the Year. Nalco manufactures treatment chemicals and water treatment process technologies.

But the company Nalco is not just a membrane manufacturer; it also produced the infamous toxic chemical dispersant Corexit which was used to disperse crude oil in the aftermath of BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Before being sold to Ecolab, Nalco’s parent company was Blackstone……

Former President George H.W. Bush’s Family Bought 300,000 Acres on South America’s and World’s Largest Aquifer, Acuifero Guaraní

In my 2008 article, I overlooked the astonishingly large land purchases (298,840 acres, to be exact) by the Bush family in 2005 and 2006. In 2006, while on a trip to Paraguay for the United Nation’s children’s group UNICEF, Jenna Bush (daughter of former President George W. Bush and granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush) reportedly bought 98,840 acres of land in Chaco, Paraguay, near the Triple Frontier (Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay). This land is said to be near the 200,000 acres purchased by her grandfather, George H.W. Bush, in 2005.

The lands purchased by the Bush family sit over not only South America’s largest aquifer — but the world’s as well — Acuifero Guaraní, which runs beneath Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. This aquifer is larger than Texas and California combined.

Online political magazine Counterpunch quoted Argentinean pacifist Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the winner of 1981 Nobel Peace Prize, who “warned that the real war will be fought not for oil, but for water, and recalled that Acuifero Guaraní is one of the largest underground water reserves in South America….”

According to Wikipedia, this aquifer covers 1,200,000 km², with a volume of about 40,000 km³, a thickness of between 50 m and 800 m and a maximum depth of about 1,800 m. It is estimated to contain about 37,000 km³ of water (arguably the largest single body of groundwater in the world, although the overall volume of the constituent parts of the Great Artesian Basin is much larger), with a total recharge rate of about 166 km³/year from precipitation. It is said that this vast underground reservoir could supply fresh drinking water to the world for 200 years.

Filipino Tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan and Others Buy Water Services in Vietnam

In October 2012, Filipino businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan went to Vietnam to scout for investment opportunities, particularly on toll road and water services. Mr. Pangilinan and other Filipino billionaires, such as the owners of the Ayala Corp. and subsidiary Manila Water Co. earlier announced a deal to buy a 10-per cent stake in Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Co. (CII) and a 49-per cent stake in Kenh Dong Water Supply Joint Stock Co. (Kenh Dong).

The Ayala group has also entered the Vietnamese market by buying significant minority interest in a leading infrastructure company and a bulk water supply company both based in Ho Chi Minh City.

Water Grabbing Is Unstoppable

Unfortunately, the global water and infrastructure-privatization fever is unstoppable: many local and state governments are suffering from revenue shortfalls and are under financial and budgetary strains. These local and state governments can longer shoulder the responsibilities of maintaining and upgrading their own utilities. Facing offers of millions of cash from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, and other elite banks for their utilities and other infrastructure and municipal services, cities and states will find it extremely difficult to refuse these privatization offers.

The elite multinational and Wall Street banks and investment banks have been preparing and waiting for this golden moment for years. Over the past few years, they have amassed war chests of infrastructure funds to privatize water, municipal services, and utilities all over the world. It will be extremely difficult to reverse this privatization trend in water.