Questor: United Utilities worth holding amid flood of change

Tap with water streaming out
Water shares soared after the vote to leave the EU

Don’t be fooled on April 1 this year: a rare dose of excitement really is flooding into the water industry. It is the day when competition finally arrives in a sector where regional monopolies have been largely preserved since privatisation in 1989. Some 1.2m businesses, charities and public bodies in England can start shopping around for their water supplier. The exercise means a business customer in London needs no longer deal with Thames Water and Yorkshire Water won’t hold sway in Leeds as long as new entrants set up shop.

Better still, if they operate from several sites around the country, firms can buy the wet stuff from a single supplier, cutting paperwork.

The changes foreshadow a bigger shake-up to come, which could impact investors as much as water customers. By 2020, households...

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