NextEra renews Oncor pursuit after Hunt's acquisition bid falters
- Florida-based power company NextEra Energy is making its renewed interest in Oncor known after Hunt Consolidated's bid for the utility hit regulatory stumbling blocks, sources with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg.
- Selling off Oncor is one way out for parent company Energy Future Holdings as it seeks to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. NextEra was the original frontrunner for Oncor last year before EFH canceled a planned auction and agreed to Hunt's proposal to spin off Oncor as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
- While Hunt still has a chance to salvage the deal, Oncor CEO Robert Shapard said at a regulatory hearing last week that they are working with "all parties interested in buying the company at this point."
The saga over Energy Future Holding's attempt to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy has been full of plot twists so far, and its not yet clear who will emerge as Oncor's new owner.
Last year, NextEra emerged as the lead suitor for Oncor, but Hunt teamed up with a group of creditors to put in its own bid and undercut the power company's proposal, which a source told the Telegram last year amounted to an $18 billion deal. Now, it looks like NextEra is back in the game for Oncor, according to sources who spoke with Bloomberg.
Representatives for EFH and NextEra declined to comment to Bloomberg. A Hunt spokeswoman told Bloomberg that “other parties may show an interest in owning Oncor, but we continue to believe that our plan is the best plan for Oncor and its customers.”
The Florida-based power company made its interest known on May 1 after EFH filed a second bankruptcy plan, leaving Hunt's acquisition bid in limbo.
Under Hunt's plan, the first lien creditors of Texas Competitive Electric Holdings Company (TCEH), the merchant generation subsidiary of EFH, would have received TCEH's assets in a tax-free spinoff. That portion of the deal would satisfy approximately $25 billion in claims; following that, the consortium would acquire EFH and its 80% ownership stake in Oncor. The REIT would be owned by the consortium and managed by Hunt, the company said. They would lease transmission and distribution assets to Oncor, who would have operated the system on the REIT's behalf.
The plan sparked doubt among Texas regulators, who approved the sale to the Hunt consotorium in March, but placed placed stipulations on the company's projected tax windfall. The order also set some details aside for later determination, leading investors to inform regulators that "the transaction as currently configured will not close based on the order as written."
The biggest concern among regulators was a possible transfer of $250 million in tax savings from ratepayers to investors. Hunt requested a rehearing after the PUCT issued its decision.
The PUCT has agreed to discuss whether or not to grant Hunt's request for a rehearing on May 19, and will move forward from there.
- Bloomberg via Fort Worth Star-Telegram Florida power company renews bid for Oncor Electric
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