Xylem’s stated mission, to “solve water,” is as broad as it is urgent: By 2025, roughly 25% of the world’s population, or 1.8 billion people, are expected to be living in areas with absolute water scarcity. The $4.7 billion firm, bolstered recently by a spree of “smart infrastructure” acquisitions, is working to tighten the pipes of the world’s water supply, installing sensor-driven, software-enabled technologies that can reduce losses (which typically siphon off an estimated one in six gallons for municipal systems in the U.S. and up to 60% of supply in emerging markets). Xylem also works to treat wastewater more efficiently and helps cities cope with severe flooding and other water-related consequences of climate change. The company can help avert smaller-scale disasters too: Xylem’s technical experts were on hand to engineer the pumping system that helped free the Thai youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave this summer.
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For around $1.7 billion, according to sources.