Suez Environment, the water and waste-water treatment arm of Suez of France, and Hong Kong-listed NWS Holdings have agreed to buy 15 per cent of Chongqing Water Group for about Euro140 million (HK$1.76 billion) to tap rising demand for the resource. The deal follows two joint ventures by Sino French Holdings, a unit owned equally by Suez Environment and NWS, and Chongqing Water in the southwestern mainland city. 'This strategic investment reflects our level of commitment to the Chongqing authorities and our belief in the municipality's future,' said Suez Environment's chief executive Jean-Louis Chaussade. 'We are excited to further strengthen our relationship through this investment and look forward to developing services for the people and industries of Chongqing.' Suez Environment will appoint a director to Chongqing Water's board and a representative to the executive committee. State-owned Chongqing Water, which operates 32 water treatment plants and 35 waste-water treatment plants in the city's urban area, aims to expand into nearby provinces in western China. Chongqing Water was considering a backdoor listing, mainland newspapers quoted Huang Qifan, the deputy mayor of Chongqing, as saying at the signing ceremony. Sino French has a 60 per cent stake in a water plant and a 50 per cent stake in a sewage treatment plant with Chongqing Water. 'Based on the success of our existing partnerships, we believe this new model will further our relationship and contribute to the profitable growth of the company,' Chongqing Water chairman Wu Xiufeng said. Suez Environment, which has had a presence in China for 30 years, planned to invest Euro100 million annually in sewage treatment and water projects in the country over the next five years and expected to maintain 15 per cent annual growth in revenue there, Mr Chaussade said in July last year. Through Sino French and local partners, it provides drinking water and sewage treatment services to more than 14 million residents in 16 mainland cities including Chongqing, Qingdao, Sanya, Tanggu and Shanghai. Suez Environment will be spun off from Suez later this year as part of a planned merger between Paris-based Suez and Gaz de France.