Northwest utility Avista sold to Canadian company for $5.3 billion

The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2018, and is still subject to approval from common shareholders and various regulators.

Avista, a major energy provider in the Northwest, is being sold for $5.3 billion to a Canadian energy company.

Hydro One, a public company based in Toronto, announced Wednesday it is paying cash for Avista, which provides natural gas and electric service to about 350,000 homes, businesses and other customers across Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, south and eastern Oregon and Juneau, Alaska.

The companies said the sale will create North America’s 20th largest investor-owned utility, with $25.4 billion in combined assets and about 7,500 combined employees. Hydro One already powers 1.3 million customers in Ontario.

Fast facts: Avista and Hydro One

Employees — Avista: 2,000; Hydro One: 5,500

Headquarters — Avista: Spokane; Hydro One: Toronto

Customers — Avista: 342,000 (natural gas), 379,000 (electricity); Hydro One: 1.3 million

Rate base — Avista: $3.1 billion USD; Hydro One: $14.1 billion USD

Sources: both companies

The acquisition price amounts to $53 per Avista share, a 24 percent premium over the company’s closing stock price Tuesday.

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A joint announcement from the two utilities says they plan to save money through “non-headcount efficiencies” — like supply-chain purchasing and IT — adding that no layoffs are planned as part of the deal. Avista is keeping its Spokane headquarters.

Avista and Hydro One said they don’t anticipate rate changes as part of the deal, or reductions to service.

The transaction is expected to close in the latter half of 2018, but is subject to approval from common shareholders and regulators in the various states Avista operates in, as well as the federal government. Here, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission must sign off on the deal.

A spokeswoman for the Washington UTC said says the utilities have not yet filed for approval in the state, but they will need to prove a net benefit for customers. That means consumers could see a credit on their bill or some other financial protection.

After the acquisition closes, Avista (which trades under AVA) will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. In after-hours trading, Avista’s stock shot up about 19 percent in the hour or so…

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