Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No. 101: Water business in Japan and the world (20) (October 19, 2011)

Approaches of large western companies
In addition to the two French majors of Veolia and Suez Environment, GE of the U.S. and Siemens of Germany have great presence in the world water business. In particular, GE exerts lots of energy in the water business under the slogan of “Ecomagination” that makes environment and economy compatible for the problem-solving of the world. GE acquired water-related companies in succession to enter into the market and expanded the business scale quite rapidly. The companies acquired by GE include an American company producing reverse osmosis membranes, a Canadian company building seawater desalinization equipment, and a Canadian company producing ultrafiltration membranes.

A series of acquisitions allowed GE to increase its presence in the market and expand the scope of business. Especially, it focuses on the reverse osmosis membrane used for seawater desalination and the ultrafiltration membrane for the highly advanced sewage treatment called the membrane bioreactor method. As a result, GE is the world’s leading producer of membrane bioreactors at present. It is expanding the share in the world market in alliance with water majors and local companies around the world.

Like GE, Siemens of Germany entered into the market through company acquisitions. Siemens acquired an American filter producer in 2004 and put it as the core of its water business. Subsequently, it acquired several companies including water treatment companies in the U.S. and China and a sewage treatment company in Italy. It has been expanding the business rapidly placing the membrane technology at the center of its business.

IBM of the U.S. announced its plan to participate in the water business in 2009. Realizing that IT technology is not fully utilized in the water business, IBM wishes to build systems in the waterworks business with the help of IT technology. To be more specific, it plans to build a system that automatically monitors the amount and quality of water from water storage facilities to drainage pipes for efficient water supply using sensors and monitors. As is often the case, large companies participate in a promising and profitable business field through company acquisitions and make the competition even fiercer worldwide. (To be continued)    

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