A question of ownership

We knew that Spanish water management company Aqualia was a large company – the third-largest of its type in the world actually – but we were nonetheless surprised to read on its website that it was the parent company of Grupo FCC.

The latter describes itself as “one of Europe’s largest providers of public utilities and the largest public utilities group in Spain”. Perhaps more pertinently, an FCC press release referred to Aqualia as its subsidiary.

Intrigued, we discovered that FCC was the bigger of the two companies with operations in 56 countries, serving 5,000 municipalities and employing 80,549 people. It’s also more diverse, with businesses in construction, cement, and environmental services.

Aqualia, on the other hand, is present in 17 countries, serving more than 1,100 municipalities. Quite a big fish, then: but a mere minnow next to FCC.

Having confirmed FCC’s heft, we decided to examine each company’s financials and discovered that Aqualia appeared in the FCC earnings report – a pretty good indicator that it is indeed a subsidiary of FCC.

A call placed to the company confirmed that this was indeed the case and that the description of Aqualia as the parent company on its website was clearly a mistake – most likely appearing only on the English version of the site, we were told.

We understand that mistakes do happen. But we were still scratching our heads at the time of going to press – since the wrong information remained online days after the company had been notified of the error. It’s tough to see children fly the nest, presumably.