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

Posted August 22, 2017

Sempra Energy has agreed a $9.45bn (£7.34bn) deal to buy Oncor, snatching the power transmission company from the grasp of Warren Buffett.

The proposal from Sempra is slated to be discussed at a Monday hearing of the court handling the bankruptcy of Oncor's parent company Energy Future Holdings Corp, the person said.

Sempra Energy's Oncor offer bested the $9 billion in cash Berkshire Hathaway put forward before facing resistance from creditors in bankruptcy court.

Energy Future Holdings, the vehicle that owns Oncor, previously had a deal with Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway that valued the business at US$9bn.

"We are disappointed our agreement to acquire Oncor has been terminated", said Greg Abel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy chairman, president and CEO.

Sempra runs power and gas utilities in Southern California, Chile and Peru that altogether serve more than 32 million consumers, according to the company's website.

Late a year ago, Florida's NextEra Energy tried to acquire Oncor in an $18.4 billion deal that the PUC declared was not in the public interest because customers would have had to pay for 15 percent of NextEra's $45 billion in debt. 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.

Philippines Suspends Uber for One Month
Uber's troubles in the Philippines are the latest in a series of hurdles to its attempts to expand globally. Uber, in its MR, said the LTFRB suspension order was a "blatant violation" of its right to due process.

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.

Berkshire, which made the offer to Oncor in order to step up its pursuit of steady profits from utilities and infrastructure deals, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Buffett is known for avoiding bidding wars.

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".

Sempra expects to close the sale in the first half of next year.

Allen Nye, who is now Oncor's general counsel, will succeed Bob Shapard as the company's CEO. The Dallas-based Oncor holding company, formerly TXU Corp., at the the time struck agreements with key stakeholders to cut about $40 billion in debt, lower interest expenses, access additional capital "and create a sustainable capital structure for the future".

"It is important for Oncor to remain financially strong", Reed said. Berkshire had offered US$9 billion, while Elliott had been working on a bid that may total US$9.3 billion.