• CEO Chris Weston received the bonus for his work from January to March 2024
  • His CFO also received a bonus of £446,000 taking his annual salary to £1.33m

The boss of Thames Water has defended his £195,000 bonus as being 'purely based on performance'. 

Chris Weston, who became the CEO in January, took the mega bonus for his three months at the helm, despite the utility giant being responsible for more than doubling their number of sewage discharges across the UK since last year.

Thames Water oversaw the figures jump from 8015 dumps in 2022 to 16,990 in 2023.

Speaking at a press conference after its financial results were released, he claimed: 'You need to be able to attract the right talent, the best talent to that company and going hand in glove with that is an appropriate remuneration package.'

His chief financial officer, Alastair Cochran who had stepped in to be the interim CEO, also received a hefty £446,000 bonus taking his annual salary to £1.33million.

This comes amid rising concerns for the company's survival, after it pushed for the right to increase charges by 56 per cent in a move that would raise customers' average annual bills to almost £700.

Bosses put the proposed hike, which would be introduced over a five-year period from 2025-2030, to regulators earlier this year in a bid to stave off the company's collapse.

Investors in the troubled firm have refused to come up with a cash injection needed to ensure its long-term survival, triggering demands that it should be nationalised. But this could see as much as £15billion of debt effectively being landed on taxpayers

As an alternative, Thames Water is understood to have submitted a new business plan to the industry regulator Ofwat. Initially, Thames proposed a 40 per cent increase, taking its annual revenues to £2.8billion and lifting average bills to more than £600.

But it has now it has been forced to ask watchdogs to sanction a 56 per cent hike.

It also said it will be looking for £3.25billion in new investment to help improve its position, however if it fails to acquire this the government could be forced to step in and bail it out. 

Labour has vowed to 'reset' the water industry, pledging to put failing companies into 'special measures' if they do not 'clean up their act' on sewage pollution.

A spokesman for No 10 said the water industry was in an 'unacceptable situation' and had not done enough to tackle pollution.

Regulator Ofwat yesterday said it will investigate the payments and could take action against the company.

Labour blamed Thames's failures on 14 years of Tory rule and promised to reform the sector.

Ministers were tight-lipped on the details other than saying they do not want to nationalise the utility firm.

It comes as Thames, which has debts of more than £16billion, scrambles for cash after shareholders refused to hand over £500million earlier this year.

Investors pulled the plug on the funding in March when Ofwat blocked plans to hike bills.

Thames is in talks with current shareholders, including UK and Canadian pension schemes and Chinese and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds, and external investors to secure new equity.

And Ofwat is today expected to reveal its draft decision on the company's new business plan for the next five years, which includes a proposed 44 per cent bill increase.

That will kick off negotiations until a final decision is made in December. Thames's discussions with shareholders will complete early next year.

If the utility is unsuccessful, it will spark a major industrial crisis for Sir Keir Starmer's government.

If Thames Water is taken under government control it is likely to involve a special administration regime.

Yesterday Thames boss Chris Weston said special administration 'is something that is not in the interests of any of our stakeholders or UK taxpayers.' 'It is a long way off and there is a lot more that we can do over the coming months to make sure that does not happen,' he said.

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2024-07-09T19:33:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd