Acuamed renegotiates a loan with Brussels and Ribera ‘gives’ desalinated water to irrigators

Acuameda public company that manages the desalination plants that it promoted Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapaterodependent on the minister Theresa Riverahas been forced to renegotiate a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) of 500 million due to the lack of income and not reaching the EBITDA ratio over debt contained in the contract -3.55 times-. The European body has relaxed the conditions of the loan granted in 2012 for the execution of public water works, mainly the desalination program that should replace the PP’s Ebro transfer.

The EIB and Acuamed have agreed to eliminate the condition of the EBITDA ratio over debt and now the new criterion is the liquidity of the company over debt -3 times-, which in 2021 it did meet. In return, the debt with the EIB becomes short-term instead of long-term, which at the end of 2021 amounts to 390 million euros. Acuamed must pay almost 25 million principal plus interest this year.

The renegotiation of this loan is further proof of the difficult economic situation in which this public company finds itself. The losses in 2021 they amounted to 32.8 million euros and this year they will be even higher. the elevated cost of electricity necessary for the operation of the desalination plants has caused expenses to skyrocket – it owes 90 million to Acciona in electricity from the desalination plants. Meanwhile, the impossibility of raising the price of desalinated water for irrigators due to the social opposition to this measure has not raised revenues in the same proportion.

The result is that Acuamed is going through severe financial straits that you have been forced to request extra funds from the Ministry by Theresa Ribera. However, approving this new item is not exempt from problems with Brussels, since it could consider them illegal aid irrigators and unfair competition with other European farmers. Ribera said a few days ago that he “works” on “how to guarantee” that the prices of desalinated water “are affordable and low enough so that they can continue to maintain their activity.”

brussels watches

“The situation is not easy because Brussels is always vigilant in these cases. Raise the price of water to the irrigators it’s a time bomb because they take to the streets to protest, as they have already done. That is why Ribera has been with this hot potato in the Ministry for several months, since before the summer, ”explain sources aware of the situation.

While that extra game from Ribera arrives, which has to be approved by the Council of Ministers, Acuamed is negotiating a bridge loan with the bank to face the debt it has with Acciona for the electricity supply of the desalination plants, which amounts to almost 100 million euros. The intention is that when this loan is obtained, the debt to Acciona is paid and then it is returned with the ministry’s funds.

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