Sempra to Gain Control of Largest Texas Utility in $9.45 Billion Deal

Buffett and Anka

Third Bidder Emerges for Energy Future's Oncor

"With its strong management team and long, distinguished history as Texas' leading electric provider, Oncor is an excellent strategic fit for our portfolio of utility and energy infrastructure businesses", said Sempra chief executive Debra Reed.

Under the terms of the deal, Sempra would pay $9.45 billion in cash and finance the deal with a combination of its own debt and equity, third-party equity and an expected $3 billion in investment-grade debt at the reorganized holding company.

Lawyers disclosed that another bidder had emerged for Oncor during a bankruptcy hearing on Friday without revealing the name of the suitor.

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Energy Future Holdings, which had previously been known as TXU Corp, ran into severe financial trouble in recent years. Berkshire had offered US$9 billion, while Elliott had been working on a bid that may total US$9.3 billion. The company said it would own about 60 percent of Oncor under the deal, which would include financing from megabanks RBC Capital Markets and Morgan Stanley. Energy Future entered bankruptcy in 2014, saddled with more than $40 billion in debt due to cratering energy prices.

Texas utility regulators this year quashed a NextEra Energy Inc offer valued at US$18.4 billion including debt, after the utility giant refused to accept measures to protect Oncor's credit.

Just six weeks ago, Berkshire struck a deal to buy Oncor for $9 billion.

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"It is important for Oncor to remain financially strong", said Reed, who expects the transaction to bring a "satisfactory resolution" to the bankruptcy case.

The energy company said in a statement when announcing the deal that it "will maintain the existing independence of Oncor's board of directors, which has protected Oncor and its customers during the ongoing Energy Future bankruptcy". The purchase also should address the concerns of the Texas regulators, creditors, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, she said. An Oncor representative didn't immediately respond. It had announced rare support from utility commission and consumer groups, and it circulated a document with 44 regulatory commitments that it says parties that might intervene at the utility commission have already agreed to.

"Texas is a great state for business, and we look forward to future opportunities to invest", Abel said.

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