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TORONTO (Reuters) - The initial public offering of Hydro One [HYDRO.UL] almost never happened because of strong interest from Canadian pension funds in buying out the entire government-owned electricity distributor, Ontario's finance minister said on Monday.
The IPO, which is expected to close later this week, is set to raise up to C$1.83 billion ($1.4 billion) for Canada's most populous province, which is only selling a roughly 15 percent stake in the utility.
"If the pension funds had their way, the broadening of the ownership structure in Hydro One wouldn't have occurred, because they wanted to take it all," Finance Minister Charles Sousa told media on the sidelines of the P3 2015 investment conference in Toronto.
Hydro One shares priced near the top-end of their expected pricing range, making the IPO one of the largest in Canadian history.
The stock is set to list on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "H", and begin trading on Nov. 5.
During the drawn-out IPO exploration process however, Sousa said the government attracted "lots of interest" from pension funds interested in buying out the asset.
Canadian funds like the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and its peers like the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec have been among the world's most active dealmakers in recent years, making major bets in sectors like energy, infrastructure and real estate.
($1 = 1.3100 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by Grant McCool