A water company that serving more than three million people has been sold in a deal worth £1.2billion.

Veolia Water, which supplies part of the county as well as towns including Dover, Woking and Harwich, are to be sold to an investment fund managed by Prudential-owned M&G and Morgan Stanley.

The company, which has an annual turnover of £274m and employs 1,250 people, said it would change its name in the next few weeks, but that customers would be “unaffected by the change in ownership”.

It added: “The company will continue to aim to provide the highest quality of service to customers. The tariffs charged to customers for their water service will continue to be determined by the industry regulator, Ofwat.”

But the firm confirmed that its hosepipe ban would remain in place, despite Anglian Water, Southern Water and Thames Water lifting restrictions last month.

Water resources manager Mike Pocock said: “The significant rainfall since April and the reduced demand for water due to the hosepipe ban has resulted in the first positive recharge of groundwater for over a year in the underground aquifers, from which Veolia Water takes most of its water.

“The level of recharge achieved so far has not been sufficient to restore groundwater resources to normal levels, but it has been sufficient to allow for a review of the exceptions given to assist affected businesses.

“Unfortunately at present, we cannot relax the temporary use ban further, as we need to conserve our supplies to prepare for the possibility of a third dry autumn and winter.

“We do not want to keep the ban on longer than we have to and the situation is under constant review.”