Duke-Piedmont $4.9B deal inches closer to completion with Tennessee regulators' nod
- The Tennessee Regulatory Authority this week signed off on a change in control necessary for Duke Energy to take over Piedmont Natural Gas' operations in the state, once the deal is ultimately approved and completed, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.
- Duke is waiting on the North Carolina Utilities Commission to approve the $4.9 billion deal, which the company said it expects to close by the end of this year.
- Duke has hoped for an expedited review, but among other issues, the utility's growing reliance on gas and increasing influence in the region has caused regulators to take a closer look at the deal in an environment of utility consolidation.
Though Tennessee's approval did not require the extensive review being done in North Carolina, the TRA's change of control decision was a "necessary step for the operational handoff from Piedmont to Duke Energy to occur," the companies said in a statement.
Tennessee's signoff is "the latest in a series of approvals," the companies said.
In December, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission granted Duke Energy and Piedmont early termination under the Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust regulations; in January Piedmont's shareholders approved the proposed acquisition and a little more than a week ago the Kentucky Public Service Commission issued a declaratory order requested by Duke in conjunction with the deal..
The NCUC is the final approval required for the transaction to close, and the regulatory body is set to hear the case on July 18.
If completed, the merger would add about 1 million new gas customers to Duke's service territory, returning the company to the gas business for the first time since 2007. Piedmont and Duke are also partners on the proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, along with project lead Dominion, a Virginia-based investor-owned utility.
Duke's bid to purchase Piedmont Natural Gas will force a restructuring of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline's ownership due to clauses that no party can own a majority stake and keeping Dominion as the lead owner.
Duke expects the deal to close by the end of 2016; the merger was announced in October.
- Charlotte Business Journal Tennessee regulators OK Duke Energy-Piedmont Natural Gas deal
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