Azurix Corp. was the water services division of Enron Corporation, formed by purchasing Wessex Water in 1998. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, United States, Azurix was part-floated on the NYSE stock exchange in June 1999, with Enron retaining 35% ownership. The company owned and operated facilities in North America (mainly Canada), Europe, and South America.

The company was formed with an IPO of $800 million and an opening stock price of $22.00, which fell to $2.00 within two years. The business was a disaster for Enron, and in April 2001 Enron announced it would break up Azurix and sell its assets. Enron eventually sold Azurix North America and Azurix Industrial Operations to American Water Works for $141.5 million. The company was run by Rebecca P. Mark until her resignation in 2000; upon her resignation, John L. Garrison became Chairman and CEO.

Wessex acquisition

Enron acquired the British water utility Wessex in July 1998 with an all cash purchase of $2.4 billion. This formed the core of Azurix and its main asset. Wessex was one of the most profitable utility companies operating in the UK, earning $232 million profit on $436 million in revenues the year before its sale to Enron. However, the British regulators required the company to cut its rates by 12% starting in April 2000 and an upgrade was required of the utilities aging infrastructure, estimated at costing over a billion dollars. By the end of 2000 Azurix had an operating profit of $100 million and $2 billion in debt.

Azurix in Argentina

It is known in particular for operating in Argentina, where in June 1999 it bid $438m to win a 30-year concession covering two of the three regions of the Buenos Aires Province (excluding the Buenos Aires city concession, which is run by Suez). In October 2001, Azurix announced it would withdraw from the contract as of January 2002, accusing the regional government of "serious breaches", and later filed a compensation claim with the ICSID (Azurix Corp. v. Argentine Republic (Case No. ARB/01/12)). The concession was terminated in March 2002; in 2006 the ICSID awarded Azurix $156m in compensation (substantially less than the $620m Azurix originally claimed).

Azurix was also part of a consortium (with SAUR) that won a concession in Mendoza in June 1998.

Other business

As well as taking half shares in several joint ventures in Mexico, Azurix won a BOT contract in Accra, Ghana, in April 2000. The company denied press allegations that a $5m bribe was involved, although the World Bank subsequently cancelled the project, saying Azurix had not been chosen in a transparent manner.

Azurix created, an online eBusiness website that provides transactions online for the water industry in Europe. The weather was featured for the United States within these portals was done by Freese-Notis Weather with a series of maps outlining conditions for users. Additional news feeds were provided with a series of headline news sections by Comtex news services.

Exchange users were to utilize accounts online for the exchanging of water rights contracts as financial instruments. Additionally, the intent was also to provide risk management for water contract buyers and sellers. This area represented an expansion of EnronOnline to the water business. Some companies in the energy business also rely on water contracts for operations.

Azurix also created for Latin American businesses to do business with Azurix online. Right before Rebecca Mark's departure, a pilot program in the Lower Rio Grande was commenced.


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