Five questions answered on the current takeover bid for Severn Trent

UK water company in talks over bid.

Canada's Borealis, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme have launched a takeover bid for UK water company Severn Trent. We answer five questions on the bid.

What has the consortium offered for Severn Trent?

The companies together are believed to be willing to shell out £23 a share, valuing the company, which supplies water to more than 4.2 million households in the Midlands and mid-Wales, at £5.3bn.

Is Severn Trent considering this offer?

All the company have divulged is that the business proposal is at a very early stage; however, the consortium has until 5pm on June 11 to make a concrete offer to Severn.

What else has Severn said?

Severn, which is the largest of the 10 regulated water and sewage businesses in the UK, in a statement said:

"No proposal has been made and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made or as to the terms of any such offer, should one be forthcoming".

If Severn was to be taken over by the consortium, what would this mean?

It would mean that it is the latest water company in the UK to be snapped up by foreign investors.

The others being, Thames Water, which was purchased in 2006 for $8bn by a consortium led by the Australian bank Macquarie

Yorkshire Water owner Kelda Group was bought out a year later for $6.3bn (£4.1bn) by a consortium comprising Citigroup, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Infracapital Partners and HSBC.

What have the experts said?

Speaking to the Telegraph, Peter Atherton, an analyst at Liberum Capital, said:

"For a potential bid to be made in year three of the five-year regulatory cycle is surprising, and the bidder will be taking on considerable regulatory risk if they pay this sort of premium at this point in the cycle.”

While Severn Trent’s chief executive, Tony Wray, who announced he was stepping down just a month ago, last week told the paper:

“We are heading in the right direction,” he said. “We have more or less recovered from our dim and distant dark days. We are doing all the right things.

“It is time for me to go and do the other things I want to do in life which I have put on hold for the last eight years.”

Photograph: Getty Images

Helen Roxburgh is the online editor of Economia

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Labour's establishment suspects a Momentum conspiracy - they're right

Bernie Sanders-style organisers are determined to rewire the party's machine.  

If you wanted to understand the basic dynamics of this year’s Labour leadership contest, Brighton and Hove District Labour Party is a good microcosm. On Saturday 9 July, a day before Angela Eagle was to announce her leadership bid, hundreds of members flooded into its AGM. Despite the room having a capacity of over 250, the meeting had to be held in three batches, with members forming an orderly queue. The result of the massive turnout was clear in political terms – pro-Corbyn candidates won every position on the local executive committee. 

Many in the room hailed the turnout and the result. But others claimed that some in the crowd had engaged in abuse and harassment.The national party decided that, rather than first investigate individuals, it would suspend Brighton and Hove. Add this to the national ban on local meetings and events during the leadership election, and it is easy to see why Labour seems to have an uneasy relationship with mass politics. To put it a less neutral way, the party machine is in a state of open warfare against Corbyn and his supporters.

Brighton and Hove illustrates how local activists have continued to organise – in an even more innovative and effective way than before. On Thursday 21 July, the week following the CLP’s suspension, the local Momentum group organised a mass meeting. More than 200 people showed up, with the mood defiant and pumped up.  Rather than listen to speeches, the room then became a road test for a new "campaign meetup", a more modestly titled version of the "barnstorms" used by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Activists broke up into small groups to discuss the strategy of the campaign and then even smaller groups to organise action on a very local level. By the end of the night, 20 phonebanking sessions had been planned at a branch level over the following week. 

In the past, organising inside the Labour Party was seen as a slightly cloak and dagger affair. When the Labour Party bureaucracy expelled leftwing activists in past decades, many on went further underground, organising in semi-secrecy. Now, Momentum is doing the exact opposite. 

The emphasis of the Corbyn campaign is on making its strategy, volunteer hubs and events listings as open and accessible as possible. Interactive maps will allow local activists to advertise hundreds of events, and then contact people in their area. When they gather to phonebank in they will be using a custom-built web app which will enable tens of thousands of callers to ring hundreds of thousands of numbers, from wherever they are.

As Momentum has learned to its cost, there is a trade-off between a campaign’s openness and its ability to stage manage events. But in the new politics of the Labour party, in which both the numbers of interested people and the capacity to connect with them directly are increasing exponentially, there is simply no contest. In order to win the next general election, Labour will have to master these tactics on a much bigger scale. The leadership election is the road test. 

Even many moderates seem to accept that the days of simply triangulating towards the centre and getting cozy with the Murdoch press are over. Labour needs to reach people and communities directly with an ambitious digital strategy and an army of self-organising activists. It is this kind of mass politics that delivered a "no" vote in Greece’s referendum on the terms of the Eurozone bailout last summer – defying pretty much the whole of the media, business and political establishment. 

The problem for Corbyn's challenger, Owen Smith, is that many of his backers have an open problem with this type of mass politics. Rather than investigate allegations of abuse, they have supported the suspension of CLPs. Rather than seeing the heightened emotions that come with mass mobilisations as side-effects which needs to be controlled, they have sought to joins unconnected acts of harassment, in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn. The MP Ben Bradshaw has even seemed to accuse Momentum of organising a conspiracy to physically attack Labour MPs.

The real conspiracy is much bigger than that. Hundreds of thousands of people are arriving, enthusiastic and determined, into the Labour party. These people, and their ability to convince the communities of which they are a part, threaten Britain’s political equilibrium, both the Conservatives and the Labour establishment. When the greatest hope for Labour becomes your greatest nightmare, you have good call to feel alarmed.