Growing Focus on Water Drives M&A and Strategic Rebranding

23 May 2024  |  Ethan Edwards

Companies sometimes rebrand to adapt to evolving markets, to signal a new direction, or to reflect changes post mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Some of the most recent high-profile rebrands were Twitter’s name change to X and Facebook’s rebrand as Meta. The water sector has also seen its own fair share of major revamps over the years, including some of the largest publicly traded water companies. Vivendi Environnement was renamed Veolia Environnement in 2003, ITT Technologies’ water division was spun off as Xylem in 2011, and HD Supply Waterworks became Core & Main in 2017. Together, the companies notched a combined US$34.3 billion in water revenues in 2023.

With eyes on water M&A and company strategies, Bluefield’s team of water experts tracks companies active in the growing water space. Our water experts have identified three recent notable examples of companies rebranding, highlighting how top water companies are changing their images to better communicate with investors and customers.

Aegion rebrands, seeking to clarify water focus. In April 2024, Aegion Corporation announced its rebrand as Azuria Water Solutions. A market leader in the active trenchless pipe rehabilitation market, Aegion was taken private in 2021 by private equity firm New Mountain Capital. Under its new ownership, Aegion quickly became one of the most active water companies in terms of M&A, adding a multitude of lead pipe replacement, cured-in-place pipe (CIPP), and pipe bursting offerings. Simultaneously, it has streamlined its business by divesting unrelated non-water assets, including its energy services business.

The newly named Azuria aims to accomplish two key points from its Water Solutions rebranding. First, the company wants to reemphasize its water sector focus to financial investors who may be more familiar with Aegion’s more diversified focus on broader infrastructure assets, i.e., energy. Calling out Azuria’s reputation as a water pure-play gives New Mountain Capital a more straightforward pitch for any potential future sale. Secondly, the new brand identity is intended to reframe the company’s trenchless offerings by reaching beyond its historical efforts on wastewater. Water-specific agencies have traditionally been slower to adopt trenchless solutions because of past technology limitations, but the advent of more advanced trenchless water solutions and services have boosted market opportunities. 

Bluefield estimates water pipe rehabilitation represents approximately 27% of the trenchless market. Azuria’s sales and marketing teams hopes to seize on this upward trend and present a clear message on how their own, improved technologies can be cost effective for water utilities.

Water acquisitions in focus after Veralto spins out from Danaher. In February 2023, Danaher unveiled Veralto, the company’s publicly traded spin-out of its Environmental & Applied Solutions business. The name, derived from two Latin root words meaning truth and height, is intended to highlight Veralto’s business of providing safe food, water, and medicine. As a stand-alone company, Veralto is now the 10th largest publicly traded water company, measured by revenues.

Veralto’s water analytics and treatment offerings were previously built through the acquisition of several companies including Hach, ChemTreat, Trojan Technologies, OTT HydroMet, and McCrometer. As reiterated by management in recent earnings calls, Veralto intends to expand to new markets and technologies through M&A. Beyond new brand aesthetics and marketing, Veralto’s independence from Danaher comes with a new opportunity to prioritize investments across the water industry. 

From Select Energy Services to Select Water Solutions, company rebrand highlights water’s role in the oil patch. For every barrel of oil produced in Texas and New Mexico’s Permian Basin, approximately six barrels of water are produced in parallel. As such, Bluefield forecasts over US$22 billion in fracking water management spend in 2024 in North America to address the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry’s key ingredient: water. The massive opportunity has led to the rapid growth and maturation of the midstream water industry, which manages water and wastewater from supply to disposal. Continued global demand for oil and gas have strengthened the market’s focus on midstream water, particularly with an increased focus on reuse, and water management costs.

Over time, Select has built an extensive midstream water infrastructure network complete with pipeline, storage, disposal, and recycling capabilities. The largest publicly traded midstream water company, Select Energy Services, which rebranded to Select Water Solutions in February 2023, intended its new name to simplify external messaging by placing the emphasis on “water” to its energy producing customers. 

The growing prioritization of water across key industries and sectors is a testament to its critical role in the global economy. Therefore, it is no surprise that we are witnessing a reactive shift across the supply chain and service providers, such as Azuria, Veralto, Select Water Solutions, cleanwater1, and Nexus Water Group highlighting their water-focused expertise.