There are several key players in the sale of Mountain Water Co. to The Carlyle Group. Each was granted intervenor status by the Public Service Commission (PSC), giving them the ability to hire legal counsel and expert witnesses to represent their interests. The PSC’s website explains, “Interested parties actively participate in the … process by intervening in the case. Intervenors normally represent large groups of utility customers and, in order to effectively participate, they usually hire legal counsel and expert witnesses to present their points of view.”
Each player has its own history, interests and concerns about the proposed sale. Here is a snapshot of each player and what they have stake in the sale.
Mountain Water Co. & Park Water Co.– The current owners of Missoula’s municipal water supply.Interested in selling all three water facilities they own to The Carlyle Group for $102 million, according to Global Water Intelligence, a global water market analysis site. The facilities are located in Los Angeles and Apple Valley, CA. and Missoula, MT.
The Carlyle Group – A global alternative asset management firm that manages the Infrastructure Fund, which is purchasing various transportation and municipality-related businesses. The Mountain Water Co. purchase is The Carlyle Group’s first purchase of a water utility, according to Infrastructure Investor. A global alternative asset management firm relies on non-traditional methods of investing (such as structured credit and emerging market strategies) to acquire a variety of assets around the world through diversified holdings. Essentially, the Carlyle Group has gathered a large amount of money through shareholders and uses that capital to purchase, establish or invest in a huge variety of different ventures. Investments include real estate in Asia, Europe and North America and the global infrastructure and energy and power sectors, as well as various types of credit, equities and alternative instruments, including bank loans, high yield debt, structured credit products, distressed debt, corporate mezzanine, energy mezzanine opportunities and long/short high-grade and high-yield credit instruments, emerging markets equities, and (with regards to certain macroeconomic strategies) currencies, commodities and interest rate products and their derivatives. (Learn more at the Carlyle Group’s Website)
Read more about Carlyle’s representative in the sale, Robert Dove.
The City of Missoula – The local government for the City of Missoula, an incorporated municipality in the State of Montana. Mayor John Engen supports the sale of Mountain Water to the Carlyle Group provided the City will have the first option to buy the water supply when it comes up for sale in the future. (Source?). The City tried to acquire Mountain Water Co. in 1987 by eminent domain. Mountain Water Co. opposed the City’s effort and prevailed in legal proceedings before the Montana Supreme Court.
The Montana Public Service Commission – The state entity that reviews all rates set by public utilities in Montana, whether they are privately or publicly owned. The commission’s website reports, “It is the responsibility of the PSC to ensure that public utilities in Montana provide adequate service to customers at reasonable rates. In its decisions, the commission tries to balance the interests of ratepayers who are concerned about utility costs with the utilities’ need to have the opportunity to earn a fair rate of return on their investment.”
The Clark Fork Coalition – A non-profit founded in 1985 to protect and restore the Clark Fork River basin, a 22,000-square-mile area with waters originating in Butte, Montana and draining into northern Idaho. The CFC is particularly concerned about the impact of the sale on Missoula resident’s “…access to clean, reliable, and affordable drinking water,” according to their website.
The Montana Consumer Counsel –A counsel appointed by the Montana Legislature with a state constitutional mandate to represent “…public utility and transportation consumers before the Public Service Commission, state and federal courts, and administrative agencies in matters concerning public utility regulation.” (Source: Montana Consumer Counsel website; Article XIII, section 2, Montana Constitution; Title 5, chapter 15, Montana Code Annotated).