LONDON (Reuters) – UK utility Thames Water has added a clause to its outstanding bonds ensuring lenders are paid back immediately should the company be nationalised, a move bankers say reflects growing unease about its status in the event of a Labour government.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home, as Brexit uncertainty continues, in London, Britain April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will nationalise Britain’s water, electricity, gas and railway operators should his opposition party win the next national election.
With the political turmoil triggered by Britain’s protracted exit from the European Union increasing speculation about a snap ballot, lenders are increasingly wary about what a Labour government would mean for their utility investments, bankers and lawyers say.
While references to nationalisation as an event of default in bond documentation for utility companies are not new, bankers say its specific inclusion in the Thames Water bonds shows investors are demanding extra protection.
One banker not party to the deal but involved in structuring other utility bonds said the Thames Water clause had been requested by investors. “We spoke to one of those investors and they specifically asked for it,” he said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.
Kemble Water Finance, the holding company for Thames Water, referenced “the occurrence of a nationalisation event” in an updated prospectus for four existing sterling denominated bonds listed on the Irish Stock Exchange that were made public on April 5.
This is the first time that Thames Water or Kemble Water Finance have included a specific “nationalisation put” though an offering circular from October does make reference to t