Bankruptcy court approves Sempra plan to acquire Oncor
- The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has approved a merger agreement between Energy Future Holdings and Sempra Energy, a key step toward securing new ownership for EFH subsidiary Oncor Electric Delivery.
- Sempra has proposed to pay $9.45 billion for EFH, giving the deal an enterprise value of about $18.8 billion.
- Sempra's bid for the Texas utility pushed out a lower $9 billion bid from Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and was just the latest turn in the yearslong proceeding to spin EFH out of bankruptcy.
At this point it feels like anything could happen, but once again a bankruptcy court has given approval to an Energy Future Holdings merger agreement. Company officials say the next step will be to make a regulatory filing with the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
"Oncor is a well-managed, top-tier utility, operating in one of the strongest U.S. growth markets. We believe it will be an excellent strategic fit with our portfolio of utility and energy infrastructure businesses, while opening up a new avenue for our long-term growth," Sempra Energy President and CEO Debra Reed said in a statement.
The company reiterated its commitment to ensuring that Oncor remains independent, financially strong, with ring-fence measures in place that help insulate Oncor from Energy Future's bankruptcy proceedings.
Under terms of the proposal, Sempra will pay approximately $9.45 billion in cash to acquire Energy Future and its 80% ownership interest in Oncor. Sempra expects its equity ownership after the transaction will be approximately 60% EFH.
Oncor serves more than 10 million Texas residents and is the largest utility in the state. The list of companies which attempted to buy the utility now includes: Hunt Consolidated, NextEra Energy and Berkshire Hathaway Energy.
Keeping in place financial protections for Oncor has been one point where regulators refuse to budge. NextEra Energy made three attempts to convince the PUC, but ultimately failed because the company would not back down from a proposal to rework Oncor's ringfencing provisions to give it access to dividends from the regulated utility.
Before that, Hunt Consolidated had proposed to spin Oncor into an Real Estate Investment Trust but was unable to convince regulators it would benefit consumers.
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