Thurston, former HS2 leader, appointed as new CEO of Anglian Water

Former HS2 Chief Named as Next CEO of Anglian Water Group

Mark Thurston, the former CEO of the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link, has been appointed as the next chief executive of Anglian Water Group. The company, which has over 7 million customers, has recruited Mr Thurston to lead them through a crucial period of negotiations with industry regulator, Ofwat.

Mr Thurston resigned from his role at HS2 in July 2023 after more than six years in the position. With previous experience as a delivery executive for the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the Crossrail project, Mr Thurston began his career as an apprentice on the London Underground. During his tenure at HS2, he was reportedly the highest-paid public servant in Britain.

He will be replacing Peter Simpson, who has been CEO of Anglian Water for the past decade. Mr Thurston is expected to take up his new role during the summer. Anglian Water, which employs thousands of people, announced last October that Mr Simpson planned to step down this year.

The company, the largest water utility by area in Britain, is owned by a consortium of British, Australian, and Canadian investors. These include Dalmore Capital and GLIL Infrastructure, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Australia’s Industry Funds Management.

Sources say that Mr Thurston’s extensive experience in infrastructure will be an asset to the company as it plans for significant investment in its business over the next five years. The UK water industry is currently in a critical period, with Ofwat set to determine pricing and investment plans by the end of the year.

The sector’s biggest player, Thames Water, is facing an existential crisis after its shareholders deemed it “uninvestible” following discussions with Ofwat. Withholding billions of pounds in previously pledged investment, concerns have arisen that the company may need to be temporarily nationalized.

Last week, Sky News reported that several directors connected to Thames Water’s shareholders had resigned from the boards of both Thames Water and its holding companies. The company’s new CEO, Chris Weston, was appointed after the departure of Sarah Bentley last year.

Thames Water, along with other operators in the UK water industry, has faced criticism for their poor record of leaks and the pumping of raw sewage into the country’s rivers. This growing controversy has led to a crackdown on dividend payments and promises of stricter oversight from the government.

In 2020, Anglian Water pleaded guilty to allowing untreated sewage to flow into the North Sea, resulting in a £2.65 million fine following a prosecution brought by the Environment Agency. A spokesperson for Anglian Water declined to comment on Mr Thurston’s appointment, and he could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

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