Sempra Bid Tops Buffett and Singer in Race for Energy Future

Posted August 22, 2017

Energy Future's board favored Sempra's bid after it also offered assurances it could get its acquisition of Oncor approved by Public Utility Commission of Texas, as well as a USA bankruptcy judge, the sources said.

Sempra's shares were up 1.2 percent at $117.79 after hitting an all-time high of $118.78 on Monday after the company said the deal would add about 10 million of Oncor's Texas customers to its base and increase its earnings starting next year. We believe our agreement with Energy Future will help ensure that Texas utility customers continue to receive the outstanding electric service they have come to expect from Oncor and provide stability to Oncor's almost 4,000 employees.

"Elliott is supportive of the proposed Sempra transaction, which provides substantially greater recoveries to all creditors of Energy Future than the proposed Berkshire transaction", a spokesman for Elliott said in an email to Reuters.

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Through the agreed upon 47 regulatory commitments, Texas stakeholders have rightly focused on protecting Oncor from unnecessary risk, including having no debt at intermediate holding companies.

The deal is key to ending Energy Future's bankruptcy, which has now spent more than three years working to restructuring nearly $50 billion of debt. Energy Future entered bankruptcy in 2014.

Claiming the deal will strengthen Oncor's underlying financial strength and credit ratings, Sempra said it is committed to supporting Oncor's $7.5 billion, five-year capital investment plan. Its companies include: San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Co., Sempra South American Utilities, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Renewables and Sempra LNG & Midstream - the latter of which is building a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Port Arthur, Texas. The deal still needs the approval of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Delaware, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice. Buffett is known for avoiding bidding wars. It expects the transaction to be completed in the first half of next year.

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Judge Christopher Sontchi told the bankruptcy court on Monday that the new bid was a "big change" that would clearly benefit Energy Future and its creditors.

When the transaction closes, Oncor CEO Bob Shapard is to become executive chairman of the board, and Allen Nye, general counsel, would become CEO.

"It is important for Oncor to remain financially strong", Reed said.

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Separately, Berkshire said last week it would not be raising its offer for Oncor, which delivers power to more than 3.4 million homes and businesses.