UPDATE 3-Ontario gov't says no decision made on Hydro One IPO

Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:20pm EDT
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(Adds government comment on majority stake, regulation)

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, March 10 (Reuters) - Ontario's Liberal government said on Tuesday it has not made a decision on the possibility of selling part of provincially owned electrical utility Hydro One, following a newspaper report that it was crafting a plan for an initial public offering.

The Globe and Mail, citing unnamed government and industry sources, said under the proposal the province would float 10 to 15 percent of Hydro One, and possibly follow with additional stock sales, using the cash to fund transport infrastructure upgrades.

A spokeswoman for Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said the report was "very premature," adding that the government was committed to retaining a controlling stake of Hydro One and regulating electricity rates.

"The government would always retain an important ownership stake in an asset as vital and strategic as Hydro One," Chiarelli spokeswoman Jennifer Beaudry said in an email.

A Hydro One spokeswoman referred questions back to the Ontario government.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, has seen its debt balloon to C$300 billion ($237.66 billion) since 2009 as the Canadian dollar, high-flying at the time, sideswiped exports and hurt the province's once-dominant manufacturing sector.

While the province has pledged to balance the budget in 2017-18, it is running a C$12.5 billion deficit this fiscal year.   Continued...