In September SUEZ closed its
€ 3. 2 billion acquisition of GE
Water. Heading up the new
division will be Heiner Markhoff,
formerly from GE. We manged to
catch him inbetween a busy travel
By Tom Freyberg
The announcement that SUEZ was to buy GE Water in a headline acquisition did not come as a
surprise to many. Weeks before the
CEO Jean-Louis Chaussade hinted in
a fnancial results meeting that buying
GE’s water division would be of interest.
It was at the end of September when
the € 3. 2 billion buy was completed,
together with Canadian investment
company Caisse de dépôt et placement
du Québec. A new business unit –
Water Technologies & Solutions (WTS)
– has been set up to combine SUEZ’s
existing water division and the new GE
The task will now be to integrate two
sizeable industrial water businesses,
including the 7,500 GE employees,
around the world. Furthermore, over
half of the GE business was made up
the chemical company BetzDearborn,
acquired in 2002 from Hercules
Furthermore, the WTS business will
need to incorporate existing municipal
projects inherited from SUEZ’s
Degrémont business, while pushing into
the industrial markets, particularly in
the US – one of its target markets.
The man tasked with such challenges
is Heiner Markhoff, the former president
and CEO of GE Water. A 23-year veteran
within GE, having worked in the power,
plastics and automotive divisions of the
company, Markhoff will be responsible
for leading the business globally.
Water & Wastewater International
(WWi): Which sector do you see as
having the most growth potential and
why for the new Water Technologies &
Solutions (WTS) business?
Heiner Markhoff (HM), CEO, Water
Technologies & Solutions: With the
expanded portfolio of solutions we
are better able to meet the needs of
all customers. Our broad range of
integrated solutions help key customers
in a wide range of industries from
power generation, oil and gas to food
and beverage address their water and
process challenges, drive effciencies
and meet regulatory requirements.
WWi: How much are you expected
to grow the WTS division? I’ve read
fgures of a predicted 5 percent growth
rate until 2020?
HM: We see good growth potential in
our target markets.
WWi: WTS will be primarily focused on
the industrial sector yet it will inherit all
of GE’s municipal water activities – how
will the company balance managing
both of these portfolios?
HM: We will manage our portfolio
just as we do today, but with added
expertise and solutions. We look at
our customer base as contributors
to the sustainability and responsible
management of the water ecosystem.
Our portfolio of solutions are fexible
to meet both industrial and municipal
needs in combatting challenges like
water scarcity through reuse as in our
Membrane Bioreactors (MBR) or Ozonia
and ultraviolet solutions.
WWi: Some water clients do not wish
to have projects and services bundled
together with in-house kit from the
same companies. How will SUEZ face
this challenge with the integration?
HM: Our goal is to meet our customers’
needs based on their challenges,
timeline and budget. The positive thing
about such a broad portfolio is that there
doesn’t have to be a one-size-fts-all
approach. We can create a package that
is unique for each customer.
WWi: GE built up a mixed technology
offering, including electrodialysis
reversal, membrane bioreactor and zero
liquid discharge technologies, before
the integration. Does SUEZ intend to
compliment this with further additions
HM: These solutions are integral to
the resource revolution by combatting
water scarcity via reuse and resource
recovery. Ultimately, we look to draw on
the best possible portfolio of solutions
that can be combined and confgured
to meet a customer’s budget, delivery
timeline, footprint and water quality
and availability needs.
WWi: In December the company plans
to present its strategy for the industrial
water markets. What will shareholders
want to hear from this?
HM: I think shareholders want to see
plans for sustainable, responsible and
proftable growth that is founded in our
ability to deliver competitive solutions
to our customers, leveraging our broad
product, process and digital capabilities.
Tom Freyberg is the chief editor of WWi